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Author: Tim Wallen

Can I make this my soundtrack for my daily routine?

Imagine if funk/dub went ambient. Well, it just did. Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human‘s Like 10 Feet Tall is a great addition to the ever-over-stuffed, ever-growing category of  instrumental music.  Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human is a wordy name, and it’s not super-creative (it’s the stage names of Jason Falk (Clearly Human) and Chad Imes (Loudspeaker Speaker), but it tells the listener what they’re getting: the cohesive meeting of some musical minds. Basically, Falk plays percussion and Imes has his way with the rest of the sound of the album. That’s not to put Falk out of the limelight, however.

To explain how the two work together, the opener “Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human” is a great starting point. Ghostly chime sounds open the album, while Clearly Human’s metallic drumming courts the pace of the chimes. The chimes then get wiped away and Loudspeaker Speaker moves in with some funky bass lines. After a bit of this, the chime sound weaves in and out periodically, which then paves the road for some guitar. Such introductions and removals of sound are methodical and calculated, but help to create a grand musical mosaic.

The album becomes pretty trance-like, and the shifts in tracks will be barely noticed by the average listener.   The second track “No Change” beings with a similar bass line, guitar, and chimes as heard on the opener.Then Loudspeaker Speaker slaps you awake with what sounds like the cross between a terrified scream and a tire squeal. It’s the suggestion that you’ve just walked into these guys’ haunted house of ambient funk.

“Like a Beat-Up El Camino Hittin’ Switches” and “Little Brother FM” are two of the most interesting tracks. With names like those, the instrumentals have a lot of catching up to do. “Little Brother FM” begins with a banging drum beat, that opens for a high-pitched guitar squeak fest. Then, at around a minute and thirty seconds, what sounds like a cello comes in from left field. The track at first suggests a possible interruption with some self-pleasuring guitar wankery, but it becomes clearer that Loudspeaker Speaker is obviously more concerned about creating cohesive tracks.  On “Like A Beat-Up El Camino Hittin Switches,” the drums hit hard sounding and eho-ey that get paired up with a mechanical bell sound.  The best way to imagine it is a clock tower traveling through space. The musical suprises and unique sounds never stop, but to describe them all would take days. It would be better for the reader if that time was spent zoning out to the great beats of Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human.

What's a Miss Autopsy?

Miss Autopsy’s The Hill is a confused piece of work.  One-man-band Steve Beyernik delivers punkish, bitter lyrics with the timing of a blues singer over guitar, synths, or piano. That is The Hill: instrumentals riding backseat to the songwriting.  Oh yeah,  there are drums on a couple of tracks, provided by Jason Garner.

Now, putting emphasis on songwriting is not such a bad thing, but the lyrics usually come off as ridiculous and make the listener wonder if this is a serious effort to tap the emotions of the listener. With lines such as “still hold my heart in my hands by the time they find me, yes/it’s a tempting way to die/ that is why I don’t have a knife” on “Telephone Song” help to concrete this assumption. To not help this,  Beyernik’s voice sounds, while not sounding whiny, sounds forced at times.  These elements turn whatever message The Hill is trying to convey, which could possibly be summed up by the lyrics ” I used to love this world” on the title track “The Hill,”  into an awkward, confused parody. It’s the type of humor that brews inside the listener as they decide whether it’s okay to laugh.

While listening to the vocals at times can be entertaining, the instrumentals on The Hill leave much to be desired. The repetitive instrumentals stretch the songs out, molasses-like. The repetitive instrumentals seem like they try to take a minimalist approach, but they are so scarce and empty-sounding that the songs at times, as on “Let the Bodies Lie”, feel like pieces that would be performed to some coffeehouse beatniks that would chastise one for not “getting it”. Well, I don’t get it.

Follow the Turquoise Trail to your next rave.

Pictureplane is one-man electronic artist Travis Edgey from Denver, Colorado. He gained fame last year with the remixes of “lost time” on noise-rockers Health’s  remix album “Health//Disco” and of Crystal Castle’s “Air War.”  Last year also saw the very,very independent release of his debut Turquoise Trail.  To sum up Pictureplane’s sound as underground electronic dance music would be misleading,  and to attempt to explain the experience that is “Turquoise Trail” leaves much to be desired.

With Edgey’s ghostly crooning in the background, synths rip open and quickly flare up on the album opener “The Turquoise Trail,” which barely makes it over two minutes. The vocals can barely be made out on most songs, making Edgey’s mouth just another element of  the crazy, cracked-out dance tracks on Turquoise Trail that weave together seamlessly but pop in with unexpected beats.  For instance, on “Wearing a Nothing Cloak,” a pulsing drumbeat partnered with an instrumental that sounds like the baby of a saxophone and a tuba prepares the listener for a darker beat. But as soon as such an assumption is made, the intro gets pierced by a much lighter sounding synth that eventually takes over.

Every song on Turquoise Trail is unique, and also makes one reminisce of sounds produced by other artists occasionally, while still maintaining its own identity. For instance, “Temporary Infinity” begins with light, Daft Punk-esque jagged synths that burst into a trancey dance banger. It’s a shift that is quick, but fluid.

My favorite track on Turqoise Trail at the moment, is “Tha Dark Lord/Warp to Level8.” It begins with some heavy, glitchy, dark synths that open to some slow, heavy-hitting snares. It’s a track full of all the  intensity and bang one could ever desire in a minute and a half.

Every track on Turqoise Trail has something to keep the listener entertained and occupied. With about 200% more influences on sound than world music, Pictureplane has a killer debut album that is an excellent starting block for so much more incredible music. I would say it was the best six dollars by mail I have ever s(p)ent.