Monday, December 2, 2013
Trabajo "Gamelan To The Love God" self released EP
Cole Furlow from Dead Gaze talked to me once about King Tubby and how it related to a lot of things happening with Animal Collective and later Panda Bear tracks in a similar experimentation with heavy dub reverb sound. Listening to this single from Tabajo I'm reminded of a similar end result in sound and theory. Trabajo, an electronic duo from Brooklyn, is Yuchen Lin and TJ Richards who are fanatical about gamelan music from Indonesia and have been experimenting and sampling it for the past couple of years resulting in this self released EP. It's got a lot to do with MadLibs Beat Konducta Volumes as well as Ducktails or Dirty Beaches in the way they rework the material with a lot of contemporary techniques while respecting the source.
A-Side's "Gamelan to the Love God" comes in with cycling loops of hand bells, chanting choruses and dense layers of cycling clanging like tracks from Person Pitch and it's deceptively simple combination of something completely new. The loops include lower end warped synth added by the duo along with reversed beats adding up to a shimmery almost psych feel with those rhythms intact. "The Myth" has choppier smaller cycles leading into more of those gamelan ensemble vocalizations and this is buried further contributing even more to that dreamy landscape while a heavy dub beat drops into this over a solo sitar. The material they work into these loops is subtle, it's hard to even pick out what pieces couldn't have possibly been there originally. The same way G-Flux on Electric Cowbell is pioneering his own cumbia, these guys are following a thread that for me started with Panda Bear and here comes these instrumental tracks, heavily chopped up and tilted towards faster tempos, veering into a dance sound this becomes something of a gamelan breaks record with big bass kicks of massive decay over the eastern loops in a huge sound chamber.
"I Am Tetsuo" is all bells and chimes in glitchy bursts for them to add a heavy thumping beat under this mathy percussion. The choral style vocal also relies on brief twitches of strange rhythms and ending up with a melody something like Enigma(Contemporary gregorian chants? That will never happen again) proving that the pieces can always be appropriated in new ways. The very reason all those needles were pulled backwards on turntables almost forty years ago now.
B-Side's "23 Skidoo" (also a band who dabbled in gamelan) is working in chimes and half beats built on top of each other, with their brand of repetition working in a hyper Eastern Velvet Underground style. There's warped guitar or a wah'd synth over the pile of chimes in primal rhythms; the real foundation for most gamelan tracks and suits this exploration well. When this really starts raking things together they hit a stride, the less air and breathing space between individual pieces starts to turn this into somthing else, just at the moment when you stop paying attention to the piece as it's individual parts.
On "Udan Mas" bell sounds are broken out in long melodies while a super western thump beat is laid out with handclaps, the old 808 ones. This track sounds the most psych to me, an alien soundtrack that has modern elements but true to the source textures. There's room for a haunting little vocal on this to finish up the track. "Mortal"'s quick loop is something out of a carnival merry go round on 78. Tempos blend together in impossible to follow ays with heavy synth. There's a soundtrack element to this leke Goblin or John Carpenter's stuff, here more subtle and loopy atmospheric with slower changes relying on this overwhelming twinkly loop but the same kind of macro composition at work.
The duo is actually playing Bundy's (75 Stewart Ave) this Saturday. Pick up this single from their bandcamp page.