Strategy, “Music for Lamping”

Paul Dickow’s beat-less excursions share much with his more rhythmic compositions, but unfettered by time signatures his music sounds all the more exotic and mercurial.

Future Rock was certainly a telling title, but for all the rocking the album exhibited it also displayed a clear preoccupation with ambiance and minutiae. Between the rubbery bass lines and snapping snares were waves of carefully processed electrical currents and sizzling synthetic effects. As it turns out, if you take the rhythm section out of Dickow’s musical palette, there’s a whole world of living melodies and microscopic field recordings to be found. Music for Lamping takes a light to Strategy’s less dance-able side and emphasizes all the clattering noise and radiation that usually serves as mere accompaniment.

The 14-minute opener, “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” seems to reveal its title as a lie. Dickow slowly builds an electrical downpour out of potent blips and melodic bubbles until it finally fizzles out in a familiar wave of subdued sound. The effect is comforting and simple: Dickow pushes his artificial world of sound to its limit until it finally reaches the organic world and approximates the soft tapping of rain on a window or roof. “Cathedral Spark” then reaches into the abstract and creates a space of echo-rich alienation. With the title in mind, any comparison to a cathedral’s mammoth acoustics seems apropos. The sound is busier and less somber than what one might expect to find in a cathedral, however; bells ring and wooden percussion shuffles like a deck of cards throughout the song with a repetitious and airy organ whiling away above everything. “Bike Click” summons otherworldly voices into the mix of sound and casts them to the solar winds, rendering any comprehension impossible. By the time “All Day…” fades out and its simple, unadorned sequence ends, it seems as though Dickow has slowly journeyed from firm, sensible ground to a completely groundless, gravity-less dream world.

Such nebulous wandering does not suit Strategy as well as busier, more detailed songs do. “World Service” thankfully sees Dickow filling his music up with jumping cuts of reverb-soaked effects and pulsating shifts in pitch and texture. “Lower Macleay” continues this trend and rounds the album out with a final 14-minute hallucination. Dickow makes full use of that time, proceeding from a rainy field recording to a wet and vibrating mess of synthetic errors and scratchy samples. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of melody, unnatural “rhythm,” and perfectly arranged events. Dickow’s liberation from the beat is an excellent happening and cause for some excitement. Hopefully this isn’t a one-off performance and other, similar recordings aren’t far off.

Music for Lamping is available on Audio Dregs.
Samples are available at Brainwashed.com

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