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A Very Early Greg Davis EP

Previously unreleased music from 1997-1998

Perhaps Aphex Twin’s unloading of his old hard drives will have dividends in other acts following his lead. In any case, Greg Davis has just uploaded to his SoundCloud account a great, unreleased three-track set that predates his 2002 debut album, Arbor (Carpark), by almost half a decade. This artifact EP is titled One of Us and is attributed to Davis’ Asterisk moniker.

The first track, “I Have a Peanut Butter Knife & a Cheese Knife,” opens with a post-digital scatter, an early-PC version of pause-tape mania. Fractured elements are broken and splattered in a frantic rhythm that only functions as a rhythm if you stop trying to tap your foot to it. Sure, it works, ultimately, as 4/4, but banging your head to the downbeat requires you to negate the ecstasy that the beat is just barely containing. Halfway through, the piece dissolves into welcome country-pop exotica.

“Artie” goes in the opposite direction, from a hazy melody of tuned drones to something upbeat, in this case minimalist-percussive patterning. Throughout it is a mantra worthy of Terry Riley. Like the second half of “”I Have a Peanut Butter Knife & a Cheese Knife,” it emphasizes the repetition of an individual phrase with slight variations and, ultimately, a slow removal of core materials as the music fades. At its peak, this could be Philip Glass’ idea of county-fair music.

“Giants” reiterates the opening track’s broken-beat madness with a crunch reminiscent of boots in hard snow, albeit filtered through an early digital aesthetic: thick pixels meet blunt implements. As one listener, Chang Terhune, has mentioned in the SoundCloud comments, “Giants” favorably brings to mind what Autechre was up to around that same time.

Over on Facebook, Davis provided a bit more background information:

“i just uploaded an unreleased e.p. i made back in my chicago / depaul days of 1997-98. me, a studio apartment, my early mac clone computer and a handful of instruments and samples. enjoy!””ª

Set originally posted at soundcloud.com/greg-davis. Hear all of Arbor at gregdavis.bandcamp.com. More music from Davis, who is based in Burlington, Vermont, at gregdavismusic.com and autumnrecords.net.

Update: Subsequent to this post, over on Twitter Davis helpfully expanded on some connections between the One of Us EP and what became his debut album, Arbor. He says that Arbor‘s “Sea Green and Cyan” originated as “Artie,” and that “Giants” was “made around the same time” as Arbor‘s “Thirteen Eight.” For comparison, here are those two Arbor pieces:

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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