Swamp Sounds / Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods (Bearsuit Records, 2017)
The always strange and intriguing Bearsuit delivers a split release from electronic sound collagists Yuuya Kuno (Swamp Sounds) and Douglas Wallace (Uncle Pop). The former is a frenetic, white-knuckled ride through an electronic funhouse with live wires serpentining across your path at every twist and turn. ‘Skull Disco’ is sure to crowd the dancefloors, but would also be right at home soundtracking the next Xbox game sensation. As its title suggests, ‘Moon Circle’ is more ethereal and soothing – think of it as a bathroom break from the previous hi-NRG intensity, but Kuno doesn’t pull any punches with his final offering, ‘Houndstooth’, a glitchyfrightmare of a sonic assault on all senses that’ll leave you breathless (take that, Jerry Lee!)
Wallace doesn’t miss, er, a beat as the flip side slip slides it’s way into your heads and hearts with opener ‘Harry Smith’s Paper Planes’, which I’m hoping is a tribute to the crazed musicologist who brought us the legendary Folkways anthology, among many other musics rescued from oblivion. Regardless, it’s a cool tune with myriad misdirections to keep you on your toes. Wallace takes a page out of the Gong songbook with the cryptic ‘Portrait In An Egg Cup’, full of wordless vocals, head (and other types of) scratching, kling-klangy vibes, and a funky backbeat.
‘The Comfort Zinger’ allows us time to gather our bearings for a floating travelogue through outer space muzak, while the eerie, haunted house ambience of ‘Song For Broken Singers’ offers disembodied vocals and a spooky organ backing in an ambient setting. It’s like, Groovy, daddie-o!
We can always count on Bearsuit to challenge our expectations of what music can do for us in the 21st century, and this split endeavor never fails to give us pause to wonder about the possibilities of electronic music in all its permutations.
- Jeff Penczak
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