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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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The Eye: Video of the Day

Hood

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Review of the Day

ovalprocess, "ovalcommers"
Ovalcommers starts and ends with high marks, with the anti-compositional composer incorporating new sounds into the audio soup. The pulse is strong and the noise is multi-dimensional, dynamic, mobile and emotive. This eventually fades however, into the proverbial array of untitled tracks packed with multi-tonal scratchy hums. By the middle of the disc, the music has become ambience, eyelids sink, and other activites win attention until it nearly ends. But before it quite ends, Popp has sadly chosen to do one of the most irritating trends in the past ten years: he leaves 25 minutes of silence on track 11 before a new unexpected (de)composition jumps in. The music that arrives after this silence is phenomenal. The first song is an excellent match of bombastic low end, drifting harmnoics and captivating high pitches, the second pursues the more typical Oval sound with scratching rhythmic sounds, yet adds more fluid melodies and song structure. This portion of the disc is so much more exciting and unpredictable than the rest of Ovalcommers that I wonder what's holding him back fom making a phenomenal album. I honestly can say I like his stuff, but does he really want to keep releasing the same album over and over again? Is he afraid to explore new grounds as Oval? To me, the process is getting rather tired and the journalists who herald this stuff over and over again are merely chasing their tales. You've presented the process, perfected the process, now do something with it.

 

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