Thursday, December 23, 2010
OSCILLATIONS: OLD PUNCH CARD by Sam Prekop
I must admit that I didn't know what to expect from this release, as I generally think of Sam Prekop only as the voice of The Sea and Cake, whose sumptuous grooves and smooth singing are totally absent here. After discovering that this is an all instrumental, all electronic (with 25 seconds of acoustic guitar) album, the title OLD PUNCH CARD had me thinking of EML's sadly anachronistic and under-appreciated semi-programmable Synkey 2001 (1974-1984), whose claim to fame was its programming system utilizing punch cards. Whatever devices (modular, I believe) were used for this recording, the overall feel is of vintage analogue knob twiddling and even tape splicing, not of a sound-world based on presets, however mangled (thanks anyway, Onehotrix Point Never). It's certainly more akin to early electronic music rather than contemporary electronica, whose structures and sounds often seem codified beyond the initial experimentation and chance that birthed electronic music. The nine diverse tracks that comprise OLD PUNCH CARD generate movement through change and chance alignments, sometimes jarring, at other times comforting like a nursery rhyme ("The Silhouettes"). This is not to imply any sort of nostalgia, but to suggest the slippery nature of this project, an ambiguity that is at the heart of the best art, musical or otherwise. This may be one of the year's best. Give it a listen.