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Showcasing his repertoire on the keyboard, sampler and mixing console under the alias of A Grape Dope, Chicago-based drummer John Herndon (Tortoise, Isotope 217) presents six new varying tracks that make up his latest EP. No stranger to the producer's chair, in recent years Herndon has provided re-mixes for other artists, while also releasing a few of his own dub-influenced compositions via the Hefty Records Immediate Action series. "Action: Showered Us" leads off the disc with its infectious live samba school-styled rhythms and muted basslines that kick the track into high gear, complete with handclaps. From the Hip Hop collective Anitcon, Dose One lends his distinct, multi-layered vocals to the bouncy "Red Hat Attack" over busy programmed machine beats, staccato low-end and near dissonant organ drones. The compositional sounds and juxtaposition of car crashes and toddlers-in-the-park themes make for an odd yet very interesting track. The disc's biggest surprise and definite highlight is the soulful ballad "I'll Spread It" which features Herndon's emotional vocoder stylings along with some tender bass and chord progressions that lilt and sway just beautifully. The underlying purr of additional electronic elements round out the composition nicely. Herndon's interesting compositional style and shifting rhythms draw from several different influences, yet still come across as distinct in their own setting. The strong, at times angular compositions on Missing Dragons should dispel the myth that drummers are only capable of counting and hitting stuff. 



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Review of the Day

Erik K. Skodvin, "Flame"

cover imageFlame is only Skodvin's second solo album under his own name (following 2010's Flare), but he has long been quite a prolific fellow in both his Svarte Greiner solo guise and as one-half of Deaf Center.  While I do not yet have a comprehensive command of Erik’s entire oeuvre, this latest effort seems like a significant detour from the bleakly heavy drones that I normally associate with him.  Flame is still dark, of course, but it is more of a gently smoldering darkness than a crushing, oppressive one.  More importantly, this is a wonderful album, as Skodvin's lighter touch, clarity, and increased use of space combine to bring his excellent ideas into sharp relief.

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