Andi Toma ~ Damn Luei Lit

The Infinite Greyscale label is back!  Or more properly, the musical wing is back, as co-owners Paul McDevitt & Cornelius Quabeck have been focusing on art and books over the past two years.  Damn Luei Lit resurrects the screenprinted 10″, which is a beautiful alternative to the now-ubiquitous vinyl splatter.  This treatment is again awarded to a special release, a constantly developing tribal workout from Andi Toma.  At thirteen minutes (sixteen in the digital download version), the track is short enough to command the attention, but long enough to put one into a percussive trance.

We’re consistently amazed at the differences musicians display when solo.  Watching this video of Mouse On Mars performing last year’s Dimensional People with mixed ensemble, one realizes that the duo is incredibly diverse, incorporating jazz, funk, opera and modern composition in a compact performance.  Jan St. Werner’s Fiepblatter Catalogue #6 Series is an exercise in feedback and drone, while Andi Toma’s new release concentrates on rhythm.  We suspect that each time the duo reunites to record a new set, each arrives with fresh ideas.

This being said, the birdsong that launches Damn Luei Lit is a pleasant surprise, a pastoral introduction that guarantees a huge dynamic range will be traversed by the time the needle reaches the biscuit.  A short warmup introduces taps, puffs and plucks.  We hear instruments that sound like cowbell, wood block, rainstick and flute.  Electronics tick and vibrate like cartoon characters hit with hammers.  By the time the percussion launches in earnest, Toma has already impressed with timbre; it’s as if he asked the Dimensional People band to leave their instruments behind, then enjoyed an extensive jam session and recorded the results.  Multiple layers provide the impression of a far larger ensemble.

Soon the trance begins.  Instruments cry out like indigenous people around a fire.  Concentrate on the drums to encounter the human element: cymbals smacked, chimes pounded, mallets extended.  Focus on the electronics to encounter the otherworldly element: a synth solo, a coo like the cry of a mourning dove.  Or just surrender to the dance.  The speaker-to-speaker separation allows an incredible depth of field; it’s easy to close one’s eyes and remember past lives.  Damn Luei Lit may as well be a luau; strike up the fire pit and watch the sparks rise.  (Richard Allen)

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