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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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Andrew Chalk & Tom James Scott, "Wild Flowers"

cover imageIn classic Andrew Chalk fashion, this wonderful new collaboration quietly surfaced last month on an extremely small label (Scott's own Skire imprint) and very nearly slipped by me entirely.  These pieces humbly originated as a few gently rippling, understated piano motifs that Scott composed while preparing for a performance at this year's F.O.N. Fest, but later evolved into something much more when the recordings were handed off to Chalk.  The resulting album is a pleasantly dreamlike, blurry, and spectral affair, approximating a very appealing middle ground somewhere between Harold Budd's liquid-y pastoralism and Morton Feldman's queasily dissonant pointillism.

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