Friday, July 8, 2011

In Rotation #7

This post got lost somewhere in the internet void cause I went to this show back in May I think or was it April?

Just caught a killer show put together by Gift Tapes/DRAFT Records main man, Jason E. Anderson, showcasing the talents of Matt Carlson (Golden Retriever) and RM Francis in his debut performance. Two cool sets by guys approaching synthesizer music from opposite ends of the spectrum; Carlson delivering a highly maximal set of analog modular patch-cordery and Francis delivering a killer trip (as in cerebral traveling rather than "trippiness") exploring the dynamics and imperfections of time-stretched digital synthesis. I'm always a little wary of computer music (I'm an analog guy, what can I say?) but I was totally sold on Francis's work. Apparently he's got a tape on the way via DRAFT.
Anyway, while I was there I picked up a ton of tapes. After being amazed by one of Anderson's sets as Harpoon Pole Vault a couple weeks ago, I nabbed the HPV tape Outside This Area on Jugular Forest. While his live set was hyperactive and wild, the tape is much more mellowed but Anderson produced equally excellent results in both. Spacey analog synth-ery with a purpose; there are a lot great melodies that drive the cassette. The Eagle Vision cassette on Aguirre by Brother Raven, Anderson's duo with Jamie Potter, is similarly excellent. Form and melody play an even greater role here. It's a hard choice between the two as I love the looseness of Outside This Area but the deeply relaxing melodic forms of Eagle Vision are hard to resist. I'll choose later. Even as impeccable as those tapes are, and I do mean impeccable, Spare Death Icon may be my favorite of Anderson's projects because it's so damn badass. The recent Gift Tape, Survival channels John Carpenter, et al. making for an inspired album of pseudo-movie synth music. The last track is even called "Credits". Anderson also dropped a side-long anti-relaxation synth piece on a Stunned split (pictured) with Brad Rose's fantastic Charlatan project, who by contrast delivers highly relaxing synth music. It's a smart pairing of two of today's top synth aficionados; one of the best in Stunned's recent split series as well.
The one non-Anderson-involved tape was by Carlson called Gecko Dream Levels. A loopy, forty minute brain-mash. It makes me think what if an early 20th c. avant-garde composer (someone with a sense of humor like Charles Ives) created soundtracks for early video games. Carlson basically just lets himself run wild all over the tape, discharging a wealth of ideas. Among the most "composed" pieces on the tape, "Infinity Canyons" is phenomenal.
What attracts me to Anderson's and his cabal's work is instead of there being a passiveness of sounds which is characteristic of a lot of this new new age of synth music, their sounds are very much active. I don't mean in a quantifiable sense, just that there are dynamics in the music that are often lacking in the work of others. Despite the highly (or should I say completely) synthetic nature of the recordings they feel and sound certifiably organic. Stellar stuff all around.

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