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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

The disc starts off very promising. The rhythms are sexy and the music is rich in texture. Driving beats set the disc in motion from the start, but all of the fun soon begins to fade. What spoils the disc for me is when a guest vocalist either raps or sings. The rap is never interesting enough to hold my attention and the lyrics are rather embarassing to listen to. It's almost as if Red Snapper use vocals as a crutch for songs they feel need a better lead instrument, but when they keep them out, the intensity of the music grows to epic proportions. Going forward on the disc, Red Snapper do however make some choices to keep other tracks instrumental. A very nice option for tracks like the album closer, "They're Hanging Me Tonight," a wonderful play of overprocessed drums, guitars crying backwards and drone-like string samples.
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