petak, 5. travnja 2013.

Raleigh Moncrief - Dusted (2013)

Lažne vagine vade čavle iz lijesova vampirske ambijentalne elektronike i zlokobnih ratničkih himni.

In the wake of his acclaimed debut LP Watered Lawn, Sacramento producer Raleigh Moncrief continues his unpredictable journey through new aural territory.  As both a solo artist and behind-the-scenes support – most notably with the Dirty Projectors and fellow Sacramentan Zach Hill – Moncrief has displayed rare comfort in a variety of genres, possessing an uncanny ability to pair the familiar with the unfamiliar.
Opener "Reflect That" drifts in like a half-remembered dream; a bed of woozy synth and homing-beacon blips serves to cradle Moncrief's mournful falsetto.  "On Feedback" is the first true taste of the EP's strength in duality, pairing warehouse-sized bass hits and snapping snares, yet the tone never moves far from thick melancholy.  "Everybody's at the Mall" is chant in expansive haze, exemplifying the sense of isolation that defines Dusted as a whole.  In Dusted's most impressive feat, "First Person" re-imagines the all-holy air horn as a centralized instrument – large, distorted, and bent to massive proportion.  As the beat skitters and thuds below, Moncrief's voice floats along a more ephemeral plane, seemingly unaware of the mayhem below.
"Dusted" serves as the EP's penultimate climax.  Many of contemporary electronic music's familiar elements are present– skittering snare fills, build-and-drop beats, and again there's that air horn – but Moncrief's method of employing them is wholly unique.  The elements pile atop one another until the song reaches it's anthemic fever pitch, then immediately drops out and reverses trajectory.  A rapid downward drift finds the finale soaked in an ether of distant, bare melody. It's the sound of synthesis immediately followed by dissipation; indicative of an artist as restless as he is creative. -

What exactly Raleigh Moncrief is going for on Dusted eluded me at first. The thought of how to outline this release has been circling around inside my head repeatedly for days, and I’m still at somewhat of a loss as what exactly to make of Moncrief’s efforts. In fact, it’s likely that, as time goes on, the prospect of me, as an individual, coming to some kind of thoroughly logical conclusion as to what the musical content — in all of its stylistic and contextual being — amounts to, in a succinct, web-worthy summary is growing exponentially less likely.
Case in point: when label Anticon recently dropped Moncrief’s track “On Feedback” on SoundCloud, my unsuspecting mind misinterpreted the opening minute as a hasting rehashing of B-sides. No shit. Go listen, go figure. Such timbral ambiguity is a far cry from the first few moments of “Lament For Morning” from 2011’s Watered Lawn or even his work with Zach Hill and Marnie Stern. Not that the former song is predictable or clear-cut, but it’s certainly logical while maintaining an interest primarily attributable to its opening vocal cut-up, which is still elevating and invigorating to this day. Of course, once the song progresses past that ill-fated one-minute mark, what at first seemed like elements unrelated and slapped together on some promo track surprisingly culminates in an gleeful soundscape every bit as effective as Moncrief’s earlier work.
With this experience, I had in mind some half-formed, easily malleable expectation of what this Dusted EP would illicit from me, as an attentive (and, fair to acknowledge, intentionally less Generation Y) listener. Moncrief explains: “Dusted is … about fucking with the parameters of what electronic music is now.” His approach to exploring (primarily) the forms associated with his selected genre is commendable and highly evident on the EP; it’s also apparent that, while Moncrief is making this effort to free himself from the established anatomy, there’s a concurrent interest in cohesion between components. This illusory use of materials bearing a modern sensibility, a relevance bearing not so much influence but referential intrigue from label-mate Baths and other contemporaries (Hudson Mohawke, Lunice), gives Moncrief a leg-up in constituting a well-rounded and familiarizing sound for this collection.
Bearing “On Feedback” in mind, the constituent elements present rear their heads again in altered figures on “First Person” and the title track, most noticeably with airhorn. As Moncrief explains: “Airhorn can be a very powerful tool, but largely, in contemporary electronic music, it’s a lazy cue. I wanted to flip it in a way I hadn’t heard, so I made it a feature — as a melodic and polyphonic instrument.” It’s plain to see this instrumental usage occupying his musical objective, as it does indeed expand the melodic and harmonic relationships by really butting in as an excessively present timbral force, eschewing those aforementioned unions to exacerbate a deliberately retailored sonic body.
Placed unassumingly in between these horn-led compositions is the pace-shifting “Everybody’s At The Mall,” an apt title (apart from the obvious mono-lyrical basis — “Everybody’s At The Mall”), that projects the listener in a surreal, floating world above the plaza. Despite its marked simplicity in content, the subtly-affected fragments coalesce in a fantasy beyond the subdued, materialistic objective of such places, yet they inhabit a nostalgic exuberance fitting for some serene, teen-drama experience — neither tongue-in-cheek nor irrationally dismissive. The resplendent quality of this interlude, as well as the shocking drop back to the previously unsettling and texturally dense landscape, stress Moncrief’s yearning for a dance-inspired, yet chaos-infused soundworld free of preconceived restrictions and obsessions.
Achieving this advanced dichotomy within a narrow space exhibits Moncrief’s tenacity for a unique accord between his instrumental focus while narrating a compelling musical journey. Indecisiveness still plagues the mind, and Dusted will likely take a further analysis to pry open and comprehend the nature of its composition — not that of the elemental, but of the conceptual. Its brief nature prevents one from summarizing or classifying in a mirror opposite of a typical album’s expansiveness, but that’s part of the absorbing nature inherent to this release — hence, this particular review opening with diffidence. There’s playful experimentation bearing a youthful abandon, but also an appreciable maturity concerned with artistic merit, purveyed through an involvement in the entire strain of conceptual to aural listening. - Nico Callaghan

abr0117 Raleigh Moncrief - Watered Lawn

Watered Lawn (2011) streaming

With his full-length debut, Sacramento producer-singer Raleigh Moncrief steps into the limelight. Operating behind the scenes for years—as a frequent collaborator with Zach Hill, an engineer & co-producer to Dirty Projectors on their critically acclaimed Bitte Orca LP, and also as an axe-slinger in Marnie Stern's touring unit—Moncrief here plies his diverse skill set to establishing his own sound: homespun electronic soul infused with folksy intimacy and searching psychedelia.
Watered Lawn offers a beautifully precarious balance of light and dark, pitting flurries of West African guitar against synth-derived buzz and bluster, and wedding warm West Coast beat experimentalism to Moncrief's brokenhearted falsetto. Album-opener "The Air" immediately transports the listener into Moncrief's world. Melodies become rhythms that bump together, then scatter. Cascades of picked notes fall onto a quaking, bass-addled foundation. His voice gushes over it all, then takes a minor-key dive. From a stew of warbling low end, disjointed drums and shimmering keys, "Cast Out for Days," becomes darkly throbbing R&B, while the mantra-like "Time Passed By" sounds like a Panda Bear piece submerged in a pool of acetone. In contrast, "Mothers" is strikingly bare—a grunge-caked crawler that finds its author strumming and singing with little accompaniment. "Lament for Morning" proves that Moncrief is just as capable of emoting without words. The melancholy head-knocker seems to reimagine Laurie Anderson for the Low End Theory set, while the spacious instrumental "In the Grass" is as soulful as anything on Watered Lawn. Still, there's something about hearing Moncrief coo, "What the fuck am I to do?", on the roiling "A Day to Die" that cuts to the heart of the personal turbulence that birthed the record, and the search for respite that makes these eleven songs so cathartic. The "lonesome dread" sung about on "Don’t Shoot" seems sublimated by those brightly spiraling guitar figures, and upbeat track "Waiting for My Brother" is all comedown—the calm after the storm.
Whether Moncrief will remain in that peaceful space remains to be seen, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a richer and more rewarding place than Watered Lawn to sit and sink in until the next one arrives.

Hailing from San Francisco, this latest from Anticon lad Raleigh Moncrief shows still more diversity in the label’s canon. Taking liberal scoops of Animal Collective, Washed Out and Panda Bear, Moncrief’s woozy chillwave is an interesting sidestep for the label, and one that pays off well. The more I listen to ‘Watered Lawn’, the more I begin to hear the comparisons between Moncrief’s music and classic Anticon jammers like Why? Or even Themselves. There’s just something about the delirious lo-fi production, the wavering vocals and the disruptively strange instrumental recordings that just fits in perfectly with the Anticon mode. ‘Watered Lawn’ might echo a very contemporary movement, but the heart is right there for everyone to see as long as your eyes are wide open. - boomkat

Raleigh Moncrief’s diverse resume gives you a sense of his scattershot approach to producing: he engineered and co-produced Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca, he’s played in Marnie Stern’s band, and he’s worked with Death Grips drummer Zach Hill. -

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