In The Tape Deck this month, Nooga.com spends some time with cassettes from Orca Life, Fousek/Hansen/Tellier-Craig, Corum and Kane Pour.
Orca Life, "Rainmaker"
Electronic music, especially that which revolves around repetition and droning rhythms, can be a hard sell—it's not always that melodic and can be a challenging listen. But for Chris Roberts, the man behind Orca Life, it's less of an obstacle and more of an incentive in how to make others aware of just how malleable and amorphous electronic can really be. On his past work, he dabbled in minimalist compositions and fizzy aqueous melodies, but has always managed to retain the heart and soul in the circuits. His ability to create honest emotional connections from synthetic means is a testament to how well he commands and understands these sounds.
On his latest cassette, "Rainmaker," he finds a delicate balance between a more dynamic construction and something that basks in its austerity. The songs are definitely more akin to fuzzed-out new age explorations than your basic drone experimentation, but underlying static and hiss ground each track in the history of his work. This is music to be experienced and should be allowed to wash over you in uninterrupted waves of sound and circuits. There's something incredibly organic about the way he creates this noise, with glacial melodies appearing and disappearing with just a slight movement of his hand.
Fousek/Hansen/Tellier-Craig, "No Sound Without a Misunderstanding"
The art of collaboration is a difficult one. Depending on how many artists are involved, it can quickly devolve into a shouting match between influences. But there are times when the aesthetics of certain individuals align perfectly, resulting in a sound that draws from all without sacrificing the creative viability of any single artist. Recently, veteran experimenter Roger Tellier-Craig (Fly Pan Am, Le Revelateur), Devon Hansen (D. Hansen, Stefan Jos) and Karl Fousek gathered for a performance that would stretch their electronic impulses to their limits—and, thankfully, it was recorded for all to hear.
With "No Sound Without a Misunderstanding," the trio develops a mixture of digital and analog processes to fill out the weight in this live performance space. Their brew of spontaneous electronic synapses and computer-assisted pulses bend around one another in a cyclical marriage of form and execution. Obviously, there's a randomness to the sound (given that it was compiled from two live improvised sessions in Montreal), but far from some meandering collection of glitches and bloops, these songs evince a solid foundation on which these artists form their rather miraculous and wired revelations. With each passing moment, you come to realize the depth of their interplay and how each one builds upon the dramatic inventiveness of the others.
Corum, "Coastal Vudutronic Voyage"
The humidity of tribal percussion and the wired work of artificial rhythms collide in the art of Grant Corum, whose time with psych outfit Million Brazilians has helped influence his solo output. Corum approaches these sounds from within a cocoon of dense, emotional catharses, with melodies and foggy beats bubbling up from some ancient part of the earth. His music inhabits a parallel tropical soundscape where waterfalls splash against ecstatic synth rhythms and tides born of artificial space form around intangible melodies. Corum infuses a spiritual search for meaning inside these wildly unpredictable tones and elastic patterns.
On "Coastal Vudutronic Voyage," Corum creates a vast tableau of sound and visual inference that immediately recalls the sweltering weather of the tropics and its accompanying rhythmic nature. Often dense but never distant, these tracks are imbued with a psychedelic whir that powers its internal electronic machinations. There's a restlessness apparent within these songs, with Corum drawing from a wealth of musical influences to fashion a hedonistic synth paradise full of wandering melodies and blissed-out atmospheres. The landscape can be treacherous but also gorgeous, full of half-seen shadows and deep rhythmic canyons.
Kane Pour, "Vision Crayon"
The work of composer and producer Kane Pour illuminates the hidden miracles of electronic music. Attuned to the noise that moves the head, heart and feet, he focuses his considerable talents on forging sounds that combine these utilities. Wobbly synth lines burst apart against determined dance floor invectives, the sort of glossy Day-Glo eruptions that you might find blaring from a fluorescent disco club at 3 in the morning. But there's a science to his work that allows him to dig deeper than just the superficial veneer of these sounds. Beneath the bright angles and curves, there is a darkly mysterious series of rhythms that evoke neon skylines and fog-drenched streets.
On his latest release, "Vision Crayon," he forms syrupy melodies awash in brightly lit synth explosions that trickle down your cheeks in Technicolor rivulets. It's all about the experience of submerging yourself in these gossamer sounds and finding the pulsating synthetic heart beneath all the vibrant detritus. Elements of bombastic dance floor inclinations meld with a more minimalist foundation to form an energetic and elegant collusion of influences. "Vision Crayon" is one of his strongest outings, revealing that there is quite a bit of mystique left to this showy and emotional electronic aesthetic.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.