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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

The New Year

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Review of the Day

loscil, "Triple Point"
There's a lot of electronic music out there that either plain bores or annoys the absolute piss out of me. So much of it sounds the same, and what it sounds like is something so pedestrian that it was all created using standard ACID loop libraries. That's why it's so refreshing when something like loscil comes around. "Triple Point" is a fantastic release just based upon the rather unique palette of sounds here. But there's so much more going on in the mix. Sampled sounds so buried you really only hear them faintly, and treated keyboards that sound hollow and distant have such an eerie effect. Each track starts of easy enough, but builds to amazing heights as more sounds are added and volume increases. Scott Morgan, who is loscil, has an amazing ear, as these songs are dense and droned-out but you never lose sense of this music and Morgan never lets you stray from the path long. "Triple Point" is reportedly based on the concepts of thermodynamics, and that couldn't be a more appropriate analogy for the effect this music has on the listener. It soothes, it relaxes, it resonates with a warmth that almost defies description, and it propels you in the same instant, willing you to create or submit to its will. Never has an artist's debut on a label impressed me more. loscil has obviously just begun, and there's great promise for the future.

 

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