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Beatseeking Missives

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Carpark Records has emerged as a reliable source of rarefied music that flits among genres like IDM, drone, post-rock, minimalism, and outsider folktronica with understated grace. The New York label's subsidiaries Acute (which reissues obscure post-punk/avant-garde classics by acts like Metal Urbain and Glenn Branca) and Paw Tracks (Animal Collective's boutique imprint) also maintain the parent company's high standards.

Which means you're in for a treat when Carpark stalwarts Greg Davis and Signer roll into Seattle with new weird troubadour Ariel Pink (Paw Tracks), on Saturday, November 6, at the Lo-Fi. Davis--who studied classical and jazz guitar at DePaul University--has been racking up accolades as a folktronica master, seamlessly meshing acoustic guitar and field recordings into intricate digital matrices that make you want to swing on a hammock. His Arbor and Curling Pond Woods albums idyllically bridge the chasm between Incredible String Band fans (Davis covers that psych-folk group's "Air" on the latter disc) and IDM nerds jonesing for G5 PowerBooks to hit the market. On his new album for Kranky Records, Somnia, Davis delves into the kind of tantalizingly contoured drone-mongering that pricks up the ears of people into laptop-gazers Fennesz and Tim Hecker, and John Cale's New York in the 1960s albums on Table of the Elements.

New Zealand producer Signer (AKA Bevan Smith) started his recording career fantastically with Giving It Up to Feel Effected (2000, Involve/Kog), a collection of minimal tech-dub immersed in beatific waves of subtly warped digital effects. With this unheralded classic, Signer put a Kiwi spin on the unstoppable Basic Channel sound. Unfortunately, Low Light Dreams (2002) dipped desultorily into dozy dub 'n' drone, though the disc does have its champions. Signer's recent full-length The New Face of Smiling finds him strumming an electric guitar and singing like the shoegazer softie he probably was before he got into this laptop malarkey. Signer could probably snag the ears of the Notwist or Album Leaf's fans, and his track "Komputa Ga Bukowarera" is one of the best Kevin Shields homages I've heard in a while.

Ariel Pink is the artist on this bill who'll require the most effort to embrace. His new album for Paw Tracks, The Doldrums, sounds like deadpan folk enigma Jandek if he were striving for AM radio hits in some parallel 1972. This Hollywood naif uses guitar, keyboard, and an eight-track to concoct his gently bent audiophile nightmares; he also generates all drum sounds with his mouth. The disc (which he recorded 1999-2003) is saturated with Martian dewdrops and waterlogged Mellotrons, and bathed in a spacy echo, as if he recorded the album on mushrooms while taking a cold shower; it's a meticulously slipshod messterpiece. Is Ariel Pink a true eccentric original, or an annoying charlatan? Probably both.

segal@thestranger.com

 

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