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Dreamtime Vocal Play (MP3s)

Derrick Hart may have titled his recent five-song EP Fall Asleep to This, but it starts with a short, sharp, seriously pulse-quickening bang. The album opens with an abrasive bit of noise-making (“When Someone Loves You No More,” MP3). At a total of 23 seconds, it’s harsh and loud and startling enough to get your heart beating, and it sets up the rest of the record to provide the solace inherent in the title. Considering what follows, that bracing salvo is more ear- and palette-cleanser than anything else. It comes to a boil quickly, running hard and metallic like blood in a cyborg’s ears — as such, it’s reminiscent of Lou Reed’s classic Metal Machine Music, a hard-Zen approach to ferocity that at once suggests active violence and something frozen still.

And then a bell rings. And we’ve started anew. The remainder of the album’s four tracks are really what Hart’s up to. That opening bit wakes you up, so he can settle you back down. That bell is the start of “Emporia,” which employs a small amount of feedback amid layers of vocals, twisted like a modern take on an old Beatles ploy, in which syllables are tweaked just beyond the possibility of comprehension. The difference here is, the actual vocal is never heard, just the ghost sound of vowels turned this way and that, like a half-remembered song (MP3).

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“Colors That Surround You” confirms the somewhat retro mode with a keyboard that’s reminiscent of a Rhodes piano, though it’s filtered through just enough glitchy effects to keep it modern (MP3). “Kontakt” again uses as its main sonic material small pieces of warped vocals, but they’re slightly less mellifluous, and more block-like, than in “Emporia”; the seams between these snippets provide a kind of quietly chaotic rhythm (MP3).

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And for an album this compositionally circumspect and self-knowledgeable, it’s no surprise that the closing track would provide a coda. That track is “Wilderness of the City,” in which a slow industrial rhythm, less a beat than a groove of contorted metal, brings to mind the opening noise-making of “When Someone Loves You No More.” And perhaps to make a point about the relative properties of discomfort, far more unsettling is the way a cello slips out of tune, and the way a guitar scrapes like a butcher sharpening his tools, and the way those little vocal snippets continue, claustrophobically, to fail to get out much more than a breath (MP3).

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In the end, the album’s title may be less a recommendation than a challenge.

Full release at the netlabel restingbell.net. More on Hart, who’s based in Washington, Illinois, at myspace.com/derrickhartmusic.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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One Comment

  1. [ Posted April 12, 2010, at 1:43 pm ]

    Thank you Marc, for that nice review. -Derrick

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