Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rollin Hunt - Criminal on Moniker Records

I'm starting to get an idea now about the overall direction of Moniker Records after getting into this single from Rollin Hunt this morning. First we had the intricate warped electronic bedroom stylings of Stacian from Moniker and it sounds like Rollin Hunt is working with a similar method of production but with a different set of variables...I mean instrumentation...and viewpoint. This isn't so dark or sad bastard as that kind of isolated late-night self exploration can be in the bedroom recording world. That way of working can inevitably lead a lot of artists right into that same sounding hole...as interesting as the results might be...it's going to be dark as hell. It takes a lot for someone like Rollin to break out of that path of least resistance and experiment in his own sort of demented alien pop.
As much as I appreciate the ballsy live rocking garage blues sounds of Natural Child, this kind of whatever-fi-you-got home recording is going to have a special section on the 7" shelf...maybe it's because I know I'm not going to ever experience this track any other way. If Rollin does make it to Brooklyn, it's not going to be at all like this single....for better or worse that is the curse of the 4-track artist. It might force you to continue to evolve, the audience doesn't ever expect that track to sound like that record.
This kind of really introspective home recording, on whatever cheap tool you end up using, isn't ever going away as a subgenre. I'll always seek this kind of thing out, having gone through that '90s home recording seven inch resurgence with Pavement, Smog and Sebadoh (If I was going to start a band back in time, it would have to be named something in the s or r section, being the only place in the record store that mattered) and messing around myself with whatever stuff was around to record on. So when people are out there today recapturing that kind of fucked up, no rules sound....I get really excited.
I'm thinking about all this stuff this morning, because I'm seriuosly debating ordering a couple more of these full lengths from Moniker, since now I'm sure they're specificaly seeking this stuff out and curating a vision....I can't just hear these two seven inches...they were the gateway drug for sure, but now I'm definitely hooked.
But back to Rollin Hunt, and the A-Side, "Criminal" which uses a warm, slow picked reverb and layered distorted warbly vocals to place it squarely in a private kind of space, right away. In this interview in the Chicago Tribune Rollin talks about reworking songs over and over, deleting sections, the composition going from hip hop inspired beats to acapella and back to noise....over the course of months. You can hear these disparate pieces semi-woven together here throughout, but it's subtle and works...the song is in a very different place then where it started, but there aren't any crazy unnatural breaks. There's definitely an Ariel Pink internal logic to the rhythms here that could only come about in this abstraction of the song itself. This never ending process of erasing and building back up again. It's almost as if the way this was recorded is driving the direction of this...but I guess that's what makes 4-track-lo-fi a genre.
There's a timeless nostalgia throughout the pieces, covered by layers of process...the underwater Gary War mystery with a lot of sincere pop... that comes out of not denying that pop influence that's inescapable in daily life anyway. Why not try to create something good out of that purely commercial sound. This one goes from a lonesome country sound to backwards percussion, a sort of dreamy '80s Cars pop. The combination of drum machines and real feeling is a weird one to pull off, it takes a lot of humanity to pull out of that obvious, overused sound.
The B-Side, "Castle of Nothing" is a weird tropical, heavy reggae dub feel track with truly disturbed vocals...but in a laid back way....I think that can be the benefit of recording with the tapes and analog, when those inevitable cuts and pieces are punched in, it's masked with that dull hiss....and comes off as completely natural...it's part of the medium.
The fact this is on vinyl...it's a little like looking at the poster of the painting at the Met, but it's the only way I'm going to hear this....a cassette has always felt like a temporary medium, and maybe that's the attraction too, but a magnet, or accidentally hitting record could erase all of this...I need a concrete record document. Those characteristics of magnetic tape recording are perfect during the process, but now I would also be worried about that sound changing and slowly degrading away. Not that computers are much better actually. You really have to back up constantly....the first time you lose an afternoon of fucking around in garageband....you plug in that shitty 4-track where only 2 of the tracks work anyway.
I want a full length of this...it's working between that Ducktails place of tropical repetition and Ariel Pink's unassuming experimental pop.
Needless to say as far as I'm concerned there can't be enough of this in the world.
Go check it out, and pick up this single from Moniker Records.

I have to go record now.

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