Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eric Copeland on Calico Records

At this point, there's a long and expansive history of manipulating recorded music to create something new, the hashed out problems with ownership have been resolved at least in terms of whether or not it's possible to come up with something that is truly original from existing recorded music. Not to mention the fact that the very reason I'm still able to sit down at this vinyl disc playing device is because of people using it as an instrument during the lean days in the early 2000's when MP3's were the next big thing, and vinyl was on the verge of being all but abandoned. I remember reading, I think around the time that Scratch came out, that for the first time ever, turntables were outselling guitars in Japan. It's crazy to think of this, appliance basically, being used for self expression. But like graphitti, people will find a way to use anything in new ways... the most boring utilitarian, everyday objects all have insane possibilities if you just mess with them.
I'm thinking about all this stuff as soon as I put on this single from Black Dice's Eric Copeland on Calico Records. I think Black Dice also were pioneering what could be done without traditional instruments. The nightmare kinds of sound that could be created with racks of electronics...they managed to come up with pretty distinct incredible sounds that never verged into dance as far as I could tell. Taking it even further live, they added all kinds of visual elements, that seemed to be re-envisioning where psych was trying to go, literally changing consciousness. It's really impossible to stand there and even think. It's so overwhelming, they want all of your attention.
But this A-Side "Flushing Meats" is Eric's solo work that seems to be exploring his turntablism skills here, with multiple layers of vinyl loops, all manipulated in various speeds, snippets of a lyric, at all different tempos. Sort of salsa, latin rhythms bouncing all around behind a lyric slowed down to the point where it just becomes a sound. But he's not trying to hide the rewinding of the spiral, or the layers of effects washed across the entire piece. It always seemed like the mystery of Black Dice was in how it managed to be pretty simple and still like nothing you've ever heard. This piece eventually breaks down into the lowest possible bit sample of this choppy rhumba, just deep jagged peaks of a sine wave rumbling around. Masters of deconstruction. it's that magic of showing you how it's done, but it's still amazing.
B-Side's "Gutterhouse" sounds more mechanical, taking those samples; a kick here, a phaser snare from another recording. You can imagine the sort of libraries Eric has built up with endless variations on a single half second of an instrument. I'm sure there's differences in the drum construction itself, let alone the microphones used and then placement? You could kind of see going mad in that endless quest for just one more snare hit, I'm just looking for that perfect 'smack'. This is hyptnotic, the layers building up and falling away, making way for new looping elements. The difference from Black Dice here is the focus on vinyl I think, the ways that this format can be manipulated, and by the end of this side he's taken this prerecorded thing to another place entirely. It's completely broken, it's like a pixelated version of that soul jazz phrase. You could sort of look at this as a micro view of music history...instead of taking those recognizable chorus beats and loops from every hit song from the last twenty years like Girl Talk, you rework obscure, forgotten songs into something that would literally be impossible to pick out of that looping primitive chaos. You know if you have to have this. It makes me think, it's inspiring, get it from Canada's Calico Records, reasonable price including shipping of $6 CAD. I'm sure Fusetron or Midheaven has some of these as well. On black vinyl, foldover slick black and white sleeve of equally manipulated imagery with download card.

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