Last month’s ACL Singles Chart included a surprise entry from newcomer Jettison Tape, but the artist is new only in name. Behind the moniker lies one Dave Fischoff, who once recorded sound collages for Secretly Canadian, moved to New York to write film music and has engaged in remix work as Spoolwork.
“Night Driver” is the obvious highlight of Second Sleep. Popcorn percussion, glockenspiel, horns, Peter Hook-esque bass and a playing time of only 3:51 make it a perfect candidate for a lead single. “There Are Always Gaps” is another candidate, its surf-pop vibe graced by new wave bass (slightly reminiscent of “My Sharona”), insistent drums and a group of children yelling “Yeah!” It’s clear that Fischoff is combining influences.
A lo-fi vibe occasionally surfaces (the album was recorded in a Bed-Sty apartment), heard clearest in the opening and closing seconds of multiple tracks. The new name is meant to reflect the “jettisoned tapes” that Fischoff once rescued from the thrift stores of the Midwest. While the pop-inflected tracks are the most engaging pieces, the scratchy, fuzzy, second generation tracks are the most interesting. “Calling the Dust Back Home” is a study in static and cymbal roll that evokes both the Dust Bowl and the actual dust found when scouring old cassette bins. “Capillary Trees” fits this vibe as well, and might have been more effective had it been sequenced after “Calling.” The strings of “The Burden of Bloom” are also moving, backed by what sounds like a very distant train and distorted fireworks.
More of these sounds would have been welcome, as the album sounds only occasionally like a jettisoned tape and more often like a studio work. This lends the album a slightly disjointed feel. Another liability is the briefness of many tracks; five are under two minutes in length, another five under three, and the remaining four under four. Some seem to end as they’re just getting started. (“Blowout Beach” is all-too-short at 1:42.) The artist admits that many of these pieces started as “doodles”, and that Second Sleep is a catch-up collection. Our hope is that the next work will be more unified; from the talent here, there’s no reason to doubt that it will be. (Richard Allen)