After so many albums, I fear that someday Aaron Moore and Daniel Padden will stumble but thankfully with their latest album they prove that they are still firing on all cylinders. As varied as expected, Golden Rhythm/Ink Music is an exciting and gripping exploration of barmy improvisation and deeply intense, almost ritualistic, music. It does not reach the dizzying heights of early Volcano the Bear but it is definitely one of the best things they have done since coming back in from the cold a few years ago.
The opening piece "Buffalo Shoulder" might have a good pun in the name but it is an inauspicious start to what reveals itself to be a solid album. It is the second track, "Baby Photos," where things kick off. "Baby Photos" is a terrific bit of weirdo pop that could have come straight off Meet the Residents. The deranged rhythm is impossible not to jerk my body to; the epileptic percussion reinforced by what sounds like a thumb piano to give it a colorful, off-kilter vibe. All the while the vocals are wonderfully surreal, and incredibly catchy.
After that bit of madness, "The Great Reimbursement" calms things down for a bit with a slow burning voyage through some trippy sounds. The vocals take on a distant, euphoric quality like Moore and Padden are calling to me through a dream. A dream that well and truly shatters with the bizarre "Bravo," which I either love or hate depending on my mood when I am listening. From this point on, the duo take their scatter-gun approach and confound expectations and taste further with a number of short and strange pieces that sound like incidental music for a radio play Max Ernst never got to write.
Golden Rhythm/Ink Music finishes with the superbly hypnotic "Fireman Show." The guitar drags me along and plants me down in front of Moore and Padden while they shout at me and everything else furiously explodes. What more could I ask for? Even if the rest of the album were completely throwaway (and believe me, it is not), it would be worth the price of admission for this piece alone. By the time everything comes to a standstill, I am ready to hit the skip back button and start this album over one more time.