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A GRAPE DOPE, "MISSING DRAGONS"

Galaxia
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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Brokeback

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Review of the Day

NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA, "SIGN"
This indeed is what it should all be about. Side one has three tracks, two different versions of the title track, "Sign" and another track, "COGWHEEL." As expected from the last release, "Sign" harbors Takemura's love for beauty and the voice, coupled with his ability to hack and chop away at sounds and beats electronically. The real excitement happens when you flip the record over to side two. Now, I set my timer to this one as it looked like it was pressed rather tight (the vinyl that is). Experts have claimed that only about 25 minutes would fit comfortably on one side of a 12" record, played at 33 1/3 RPM, right? The improvisational "jam" that takes place on side two features Chicago friends Bundy K. Brown, John McEntire and Doug McCombs (all from Tortoise and related camps) clocks in just over 35 minutes. Right, that's not a typo! The piece is fantastic and might as well be another one of those songs you always wished would appear on a Tortoise record. It starts off with a wonderful showcase of how all four musicians have a keen sense of improvisation and incredible talent to create cohesive noise with each other. It starts off like a jamming rockish jazzish tune, but then something goes awry, glitchiness ensues in a dreamy audio bath of laptop fuckery with live instruments... I'm getting flashbacks and almost begin dreaming that this could honestly be "Djed 2!" Yes, I'm a fan and I love Tortoise music, but this track simply titled only as "Souvenir in Chicago" is a stunning performance, and it's something you knew these guys could do and hoped they would do, but never actually heard. This record only comes on vinyl and is limited to 2000 copies. Tortoise fans, Takemura fans shouldn't pass this one by, you'll regret it for years to come! And vinyl sure makes for a great stocking stuffer!

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