Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dan Friel - Obsoleter on Spooky Tree

I get financially why it was probably necessary to put this out on cassette 5 years ago, but I for one am super glad this is on wide groove 45 high speed 12" vinyl. Nice screened cover from Shawn Reed of Racoo-oo-oon too, which is just a bonus.
The frequencies have room to breathe, the compression is limited...and you can hear it. This is a true remaster of the original material... I mean if I want to get super nerdy about it, it's going to sound the best on vinyl like this, not hissy cassette. That would add it's own layer of something else...and it's not even tapes fault...I don't trust the shitty tape players I have. I don't care about them, never cleaned them, they have bad headphone jacks. They're a bucket full of problems I have to listen through. But I've taken the time to clear up all these problems with the record player usually, so I can trust it to be a listening neutral experience. It's as close to what the original artist intended. You might as well listen to a karaoke version of the song...I mean that could be interesting too, to have that interaction with the material...

So here we are as close to the intention as possible, and I'm still questioning the sonic limitations of my equipment. It'll never end. Dan Friel is fucking with the peaking of synth sounds, there are no nice, clean tones to be found anywhere. I like that most percussion rhythms sound like they're cobbled together from glitchy synths , it's something you don't notice at first, but it's clear he's taking massive control over all of the textures. So much so that you don't want to necessarily introduce that standard 808 drum machine...it's not going to add anything to the sound. At this point it's almost ignorable as a stand in for an actual beat. These are far better.

The first track, 'Obsoleter' has a sustained bellowing tone twisted faster and slower, to a distorted beat. A melody sounds like it's breaking through the mass of effects that can't quite contain it. As a member of Parts and Labor, this is someone who is just heavily acquainted with sound manipulation. It's always rooted in some kind of rhythm though, but whatever the original sound is, it's really being beaten to death.
'Pink Helicopters' uses a vocal melody screamed into a guitar pickup, and the electronics here start to get really gamey, almost decades ago videogame soundtrack...well not so much soundtrack as just button actions. Then a tropical melody breaks in, which varies between pan asian and 8bit Ducktails. I have to hope this is recreated live with 25 little blinking boxes in front of him and not standing behind a laptop. It also makes for a more interesting performance, I'm watching it being created, although I guess that takes a more intimate space to make that make sense. I keep remembering seeing Ducktails once and Matt was crouching, moving all over the tiny space to keep up with the evolution of the tracks I recognized, but clearly were just templates for another experiment.
'Intervention '05' has this epic U2 quality to it...you can sense the build up from the very beginning, like the robot streets-have-no-name program is running. There's some theremin sounding work over an increasingly pulsating beat and it all sort of ends before it can go down a dreaded dance attack mode, I appreciate how concise his constructions are, there's no filler moments or long stretches of ambiance...it's clearly got a destination, and one hell of a complex way of getting there.

God dammit! All the toasters lead to his myspace. I tried them all! His other work over on that page is equally sonically interesting. He's really pushing the sounds...I'm already lost on the direct reference and he's always taking everything one step further.

Spooky Tree has done a major service releasing this, and it's one more jenga piece pulled on the west coast sound/noise domination of NNF.

1. Obsoleter
2. Pink Helicopters mp3
3. Intervention '05
4. Glass Kite
5. Imploder
6. Untitled '05

Vinyl release of Dan Friel's out of print 2005 EP (originally released on cassette by Night People). Featuring artwork by Shawn Reed (Wet Hair, Raccoo-oo-oon, Night People). Friel has been making primitive electronic music under his own name and as part of the Brooklyn-based noisepunk band Parts & Labor since 2001.


  1. Anonymous5:22 PM

    Just put in an order. Thanks for reviewing. Very original and noisy, but clean at the same time. Looking forward to getting it and throwing it on.

  2. Hey there thanks for supporting the labels here, they/I appreciate it. He's got another one on Important Records too if you're into this.