Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spoonbill - Nestegg

Jim Moynihan's Spoonbill project tends to defy easy categor-ization. Instead of a simple label, one must unleash a barrage of adjectives, often contradictory and ultimately somewhat unsatisfying. This is likely due to the hybrid nature of his method of production.

A gifted multi-instrumentalist, Moynihan is also a tech savvy laptop nerd; accordingly his compositions blend a multitude of analog and digital elements. Live instrumentation provided by some musicians with serious chops collide with intricate, skittering edits; synthetic atmosphere and sequenced rhythm . His obsessive attention to detail and tweaky percussive sound recall Dave Tipper, but with a heavy dose of dub. Not dub in the orthodox sense, although there is some syncopated reggae-style guitar (Low and Easy); but in the kitchen sink production tradition of Lee Perry. Myriad samples from his native Australia materialise and fade throughout. Samples from soap operas, commercials, and what seem like random conversation give the sound a healthy dose of Ninja Tune wackiness a la Kid Koala (whom Moynihan credits as an influence). Collective Mass, for instance, is essentially a jumble of glitches and these satisfyingly spliced up colloquial snippets. The result is lush instrumental hip hop that’s endearingly genuine if a bit unstable.

As mentioned before, Moynihan’s mastery of DSP is impressive, but it’s the live instrumentation that makes this record. Everything from upright bass to Rhodes and Hammond keys, flutes, guitars, horns and conga fills (which of course are chopped and twisted), give the sound a warmth and three-dimensionality that is sorely lacking in much of the sterile world of glitch-hop.

Rubber Squeegee
is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Here flourishes of jazzy Rhodes, stuttering drums, and a profusion of clicks and glitches swirl together with upright bass into an infectiously swingy groove. While The Regal Red Carpet, with it’s Hammond licks and double bass, opts for a darker string laden take on the jazz motif. EMR Exposure is prolly my stand out pick of the lot. A somewhat disorienting experience, as if someone were shifting the radio dial back and forth intermittently so as to only pick up fragments of sound: a Hammond , a horn blast, a wailing guitar solo, and vox revolve throughout the track. It’s akin to processing the sound through a blender set to pulse. All of this gets down over steppy drums and a bouncy bass line that shifts woozily from 4/4 to triplets and back. Proper!

Apparently Moynihan has just released a new album in the past week or so. I’ll most likely be reviewing that as well. Watch this space.

No comments: