People Pleaser (2017)

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This on Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle label. Jazz drummer does concrète and sandbox sampledelia. Sounds like an Olivia Tremor Control and Sunburned Hand of the Man collab for Leaving Records. Open and exciting yet still pretty strange.

Abrasive and intensifying opener ‘Doubletrouble’ has synth screeches shot through with  elastic, tumbling drum fills. Slams into the paranoid, sweltering drones of ‘Creeper’, fidgety Necks cymbals and voice tape samples culled from the ether. Distinctive start – caustic and careering, perhaps the technicolour chaos of Black Dice.

‘Fognap’ winds into life with a looping, brassy sample which sounds like it’s come from the soundtrack to an old cartoon, Raymond Scott-ish. Then it crumbles, hanging with sparse chimes and fragments; lazy recorded interviews and breathy reverse vocals. ‘Slimcake’ later reconstitutes these sounds as a mournful, hovering mist.

PP swings between scavenged sampling and blasts of instrumental improv. ‘Khmerfrays’ (like the later cacophonously oscillating ‘Switchstance’ and the pressure-heated squall of ‘Whackjob’) resorts to the latter, but micro and contained, like it’s a spinning toy flashing in your hands. ‘Easylay’s’ choral depth and thin noise could almost fit on async.

‘Signlanguage’ sounds like drunk Madlib; there’s something kind of amusing in the way the polyrhythmic arrangement peters out into an insistent knocking that is bluntly metronomic (like why were you enjoying that).

‘Whackjob’s’ later scarab scuttling and sampled yelps are a lipcurlingly weird combination. Like a half-broken VHS player that runs on hamster wheels turned by metal cockroaches. ‘Headzdropa’ is only a 30-second interlude but it’s one of my favourite tracks here; it starts like ‘Signlanguage’ but swoops into a morning-TV trumpet jingle. A lot of the noise blasts on PP are technological, like cross-interference of waves.

We’re unceremoniously kicked out the album’s back door by the analogue rattle of ‘Snowdown’. Tumbling through the output chute of a steam-driven engine that produces very bitter sweets.

Not especially substantial but it’s fun to bounce around in for 30 minutes. Bit like the cover: colourful but modal, and with a sort of unflatteringly proficient technicality underpinning it which makes me think of Jim O’Rourke.

7

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