Skyscraper Magazine » Gumshoe’s Quest: No. 1
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GUMSHOE'S QUEST: No. 1
By Grant Purdum June 7, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The focus of this space will be sweatin’ the small stuff: limited-edition runs on cassette tapes, microcassettes, 7-, 10-, and 12-inchers, the occasional book or comic, and any other handmade goods and other artsy extras. Frayed ends and jagged edges will abound, so don’t come around here thinking you’re not going to get cut or bleed or… something worse.

The Autumn Ferment label has a seasonal series going, wherein they, well, you can probably guess, right? The “Winter” entry (300 copies of snow-white 7″ vinyl) is my favorite so far, mainly because its “AA”-side – a name that does, in fact, hit me better than the term B-side – features a dude named FLAKE BROWN delivering some frosty, frank folk vocals that penetrate the ear then freeze out the brain. Fast, steady, tidbit sloppy guitar might just be Flake Brown‘s best weapon, but he’s sharp all ’round. “Bring me a diamond to dig me a pit” he crows on “Cool Is the Snow.” He’s “drunk as the wind” and I know what he’s talking about. Nice. DUSTY STRAY float the listener a nice, in-the-pocket A-side but there’s not much there for me; as is typical, I’d wager “Winter’s Day” is the only song mentioned in this entire column that carries commercial possibilities with it. So I’m guessing it’s going to be pleasing to some people and less so to those on the fringe.

I work at a newspaper copy-editing hub, and I need music that won’t jump into my brain and scream while I’m trying to lay out pages or suss out headlines. KYLE BOBBY DUNN‘s A Young Person’s Guide To is – along with Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in America original soundtrack (1984), the Timeout Drawer, and, strangely because I remember being highly critical of them a few years ago, early Unwed Sailor – the perfect music to live my 9-to-5 life to. Dunn‘s double-CD, released on UK ambient/drone/noise label Low Point, is unassuming and bare, a drone record for those who have the patience to invest themselves in soft currents that rarely (if ever) ripple. The subtle delights are often the most rewarding, and Dunn hones in on that and repeats it like a mantra.

It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to hear one line of ITALIC INDIAN’s Drowsy Bruise 12″ (250 copies with collage poster, on Life’s Blood) and ascertain that this group is pretty Out There. You know, Destructo Swarmbots Out There; Secret Mommy Out there; Eric Copeland out there. It does depend on the moment, though; there are several sections of Drowsy Bruise that tinker more than they troubleshoot, several others where the different components of their sound coalesce and you think they could be much better, if only they went with the straight harpoon-to-the-eye. Which is laudable (and audible) whenever Italic Indian do get their sideways beats and upside-down effects to lock into a rhythmic, symbiotic relationship with each other for long periods of time. Overall, I think more is more, and I definitely got less than more from Italic Indian on this one, beautifully flawed as they are. Just a little more action, less traction, no?

What the hell is a jiggawatt? I mean, a Googolplex? No matter, it’s time to play Coleco. Literally, this time around, as ONE IN A GOOGOLPLEX essentially play a 2600 along with the first track or two of the Dropout Cats cassette/CD (limited, but to how many copies I don’t know, on Alchemist). New age like Kitaro yet futuristic like Oneohtrix or Emeralds, but WAIT… there’s a proper song or three on here and they’re painful. I should mention that. One In a Googolplex is the solo project of German synth-and-acoustic-guitar player Sebastian Zimmer, and Dropout Cats reminds me of that A Faulty Chromosome CD: too gawky to look at, not tender enough to make you care. Now the second song in a row is dragging me into the same phone booth with Four Tet and Marcy Playground – this can’t go on, can it? I’m feeling weak, old, grizzled like a choppy T-bone. Hip-hop beats and sad, wistful raps joined with blippety-bloops and awkward, often-out-of-tune guitar tracked overtop; it doesn’t get much worse. What happened to that awesome first cut? Gone, bro.

If you’ve been following Thee Oh Sees – and the attendant sugar-rush of similar acts, from The Beets to Ty Segall – MEDICATION‘s This Town LP (limited edition of 700 on HoZac) will serve as a fresh breath of nicotine-stained air after weeks spent inside a stuffy, non-smoking bar. This Town, appropriately enough in the age of Fuzz Envy and Tascam 388s, might even be lo-fi-er than anything Anton Newcombe has managed, distant enough to be coming from two rooms away and trebly enough to cause headaches and hearing loss. It’s worth it, every goddamn minute of it. Mikey Hyde [pictured above] is as reverent to his idols as many of the solo, home-recorded acts of today, but there’s something more here. For those who thought Brian Jonestown Massacre never really got it right over the course of a full-length album – a theory I just can’t Dig – Medication‘s debut long-player could very well be the treatment they’re looking for. The title track is particularly memorable, its tambourines chirping like drunken crickets and its guitar riff rambling off into perpetuity.