Otto Solange ~ шон

If a turntablist album were to marry a hauntology album, the child might sound something like шон (Poles).  This is the previously hidden side of an artist normally known for making ambient-minded music under another name.  There’s a hint of Endtroducing present, albeit with less hip-hop; the slowed beats of “Eisoverstaub” nudge against chopped choirs, and as  the piano and mangled monologue sample enter, the components are complete.  Sight unseen, few if any would identify this as an Eilean Records release.

The mood lightens as the album progresses.  There’s a while before the Nirvana sample surfaces, but on the way a number of other sources appear, many from the artist’s own archives.  “No questions,” a female narrator insists, “no words, a feeling.”  In this case, the feeling is ~ surprise! ~ fatherhood.  Bet you didn’t see that coming.  These head-nodding tracks were composed for a newborn son, the majority set to tape prior to his arrival.  But it’s not until the fourth track, “e.vo,” that anything suggesting childhood appears.  Gentle guitar in one speaker is offset by bicycle bells in the other, then a strange drum segment, as if played by a child who practices for hours to produce one decent riff.  The experience for a parent can seem just as chaotic, especially when it comes to sleep; worries tackle the mind like layers of noise.

“Akō Rōshi” features plenty of snares and an overtone of menace, again not what one would expect of an album with this theme.  Yet the looming thought of parenthood can make hearts double their beats.  It’s a good thing there’s a break after the baby is born, represented here by “Ever Round, It turns, He Goes To Sleep.”  The classical sample makes one think of Baby Mozart CDs; the first part of the title implies a mobile over the baby’s bed; and the last part implies the relief of the parent.  The shouted words “Go to sleep!” are a concession to the frustration that many parents share in silence, which exploded into the public consciousness in a 2011 book by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés.

Looking back on this time, the artist likely applies perspective.  Becoming a father knocked him right out of ambience and into this strange uncharted sonic territory.  It’s a good place for him, although unfortunately he predicts that this will be his only album under this moniker.  Well sure, you say that now, but what if you have another baby?  Then we might expect some heavy metal.  (Richard Allen)

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