Saturday, September 30, 2006

RED SQUIRREL

Recently got two discs in the mail from the cave-dwellers at Seattle's Debacle Records, and have to admit that my first-look, knee-jerk expectations were not super high. The bands in question bore the rather bland names Red Squirrel and Physical Demon, and while the latter's offering had a pretty cool title (Anklyosaur Generator) and nicely diseased cover art, the former's entry quickly threw up red flags. With a title like Magic Acorn, a cover torn from a illustrated kid's version of the Canterbury Tales, and semi-cutesy song titles like "Animals Having a Picnic," "Mouse Hoe Down,"and "I Pet A Llama"...well, I think you can excuse me for not expecting a masterpiece. I didn't necessarily think it would be bad, though, and on that count I was right - but it's still a lot better than I ever could've guessed.

I'm at a bit of a loss with Red Squirrel (which turns out to be the solo transmissions of Seattleite Jason Young) in terms of how exactly to describe the transfixing, suprisingly rangy sound going on. So I'll just fall back on comparisons: I hear the winding, scraping improv of A Handful of Dust on "Animals Having a Picnic" (linked below) and "Forest Gathering," the closeted, sun-seeking rumbles of Angus MacLise and NNCK on "If The Ocean Was Made of Wood Not Water" and "It's A Fever" (available on the label myspace page), and especially the grimy drones of Jazzfinger on "Infidels Taste Sour" and others -- plus hints of Mouthus, Black Dice, Labradford, Richard Youngs, etc. In other words, not bad at all.

But I mostly hear a guy who knows how to be patient with a sound, knows when it's time to move on, and most importantly, knows how to turn just a few sounds - a windy drone, a muffled beat, a chopping sample, a cycling phase - into a whole lot more than just a few sounds. Right now that's my favorite thing about Magic Acorn (which turns out to be actually a pretty good title after all): most of the time you can divide out the individual sounds being used on every track pretty quickly, but you still can't figure how they form one geometrically larger, aurally cloudier nucleus that far exceeds the aggregate size of its individual atoms.

Since this is a first-timer from an unknown (to me), I'm digging around for some kinda major flaw, but nothing's turning up. There is a somewhat overdone nature theme that gets too literal at times - "Animals On Swings" actually sounds like a bunch of animals, perhaps even on swings - and a few tunes try the same move twice, but shit, it usually works twice. Otherwise, there's no nits to pick here - just lots of thick, well-cooked sound that's worth knifing your way through more than a few times.

mp3:
RED SQUIRREL - "Animals Having a Picnic" from Magic Acorn

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jason Young said...

I would like to thank you for your kind words about my music. Sincerely Jason Young aka Red Squirrels
Ps. I use squirrels and not squirrel because my friend Jesy of tiny vipers did it and she is solo and like her. I say I like more then one squirrel.

4:31 PM  

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