Rick Reed 'Dreamz/Blue Polz' Picture Disc LP (Elevator Bath, 2008)

Round two of the Elevator Bath Picture Discs... and this one's a beauty. Reed is a veteran when it comes to the brooding drone and Dreamz/Blue Polz is a good representation of what the man is capable of, and if you are unfamiliar with his work-as a lot of you probably fall into this category as he is just now making a lot of his music available and has for the most part kept a low profile- then this is a good place to start. Reed never studied music in school. In fact, he studied art and eventually left college to live in Austin, Texas, where he now resides. He always had an interest in music though and would often paint to a revolving soundtrack of Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, and Tangerine Dream. He later purchased some cheap synths and started recording his own sound experiments and has since traversed in film, installation work, and field recording realms.

I originally heard these tracks on Reed's massive 4cdr retrospect covering 1978-2008 that I was able to snag at the Elevator Bath Anniversary Show in Seattle last year. unfortunately there are only 50 copies and you can't find any info on it on the internet...hmmm (As a light bulb flicks on somewhere). It covers a lot of ground, containing newer material from 2004 onward, recent collaborations and older long out of print cassette material and each cdr case has a different original painted cover done by Reed. Furthermore, he also has a track featured on the still fresh Elevator Bath Compilation cd that's damn solid. In fact, all the material on that comp is really good, so scoop it up, here.

The Visual-

As I mentioned above, Reed is a painter and has been actively involved in the visual arts for over 20 years. I am not wise to the methods or ideas behind Reed's abstract blending of colour and form but all I can think of when I gaze at this album art is a sun setting on the horizon of some far away planet, maybe Neptune or Pluto, barren and isolating yet eerily comforting.

The Aural-

Dreamz (2007) starts off with a muted electronic clatter that is quickly taken over by a dense tone, everything wrapped in what could be short-wave radio static. The track then undergoes a series of fluctuations and swells, leaving the static behind and churning onward as a multi-faceted (sine?) wave of pure synth flatline drone eventually mutating into a sinister crawl. At about the 16 minute mark the track takes a rapid shift as Reed introduces a Fennesz/Hecker-like pixelated synth loop, so dreamy and hypnotic that it could stretch over a whole side of vinyl and I probably wouldn't tire of it. The flip, Blue Polz begins with a much more glitch electronica feel, sonar pulses pepper the opening 3 minutes giving way to more of that dark ambient synth drone that Reed handles so well. A slow throbbing pulse eventually takes over maintaining itself for the duration, so slow and methodical reminding me of early Mirror, and anything even remotely close to the Mirror sound is worth getting excited over. Impressive stuff.

260 copies.

1 comment:

Ross Birdwise said...

Hey Adrian,

Its Ross from EDR. I finally downloaded the set you recorded. Interesting to hear it vs our recording off the board. I am thinking of posting it on our blog if that is ok with you?

Also, I am playing a show as IF THEN DO on March 19th @ the Bump N Grind...I thought you might want to give it a plug on your blog and come out to see it. I might bring a few other artists with me, possibly some heavy drone activities.

Here are the details:

if then do + guests
Thursday March 19th
4 - 6pm
@ The Bump N Grind
916 Commercial Drive (@ Venables)

the 'press release':

IF THEN DO (Nathan Medema, Simon Guibord, Ross Birdwise): Born in 2001, originally from Ottawa, if then do began lo-fi, with early shows manifesting as analog maelstroms of keyboards, bass, tapes, pedals and a karaoke machine, with a sound influenced as much by glitch music as it was by shoegaze, musique concrete and noise. However, the group quickly grew frustrated with the compositional and sonic limitations of their gear, and increasingly enamoured with the electronic sounds coming out labels such as Mego, Touch and Mille Plateaux, they went digital. Today, if then do is still influenced by its past, but looks forward to the future, mixing and mutating elements of dub, pop, electroacoustic, hip hop and other musical genres into an increasingly diverse musical stew, crafting complex arrangements and improvised sections packed with sonic detail and numerous variations and unusual tangents.

With a dynamic that is by turns brutal and tender, if then do teeter on the borderlines between genres, attempting to marry noise to melodicism, lo-fi detritus to hi-fi production, "experimental music" to some (decaying?) semblance of pop. It's their own logic; one that has landed an array of performing slots alongside disparate acts such as Mitchell Akiyama, Tim Hecker, Mono, Do Make Say Think, Xiu Xiu, The Acorn and Iszoloscope. This particular Vancouver if then do show features Ross Birdwise on laptop, playing an assortment of pre-composed if then do tracks and doing some improvisation (effected kazoo, contact microphones in mouth) and real-time processing on the fly.