Thursday, December 18, 2014

TRUMPET TRUMPET SYNTHESIZER / HORAFLORA
“Oh Baby / My Acoustica” split
(Weird Ear Records)



I’ve always had a weird relationship with splits. On one hand, you’ve got your great splits – banana comes to mind, and also that half-chocolate half-vanilla soft-serve you used to get everywhere. On the other hand, you’ve got your gymnastic splits, inseam-splits, favorite-band-calls-it-quits-and-splits, and the like. I guess what I’m saying is, the appeal of a split comes down to what it’s splitting, and whether whatever’s being split might have been better off left alone.

Enter Trumpet Trumpet Synthesizer and Horaflora’s “Oh Baby/My Acoustica.”

The A-side of the cassette features the 16-and-a-half minute “Oh Baby” by Brooklyn-based duo Trumpet Trumpet Synthesizer, featuring a genuinely strange and unequivocally functional combination of the eponymous amplified trumpets and synthesizers, joined intermittently by haunting vocals. Opening with warm, treated horns over a bed of lush synthesizer, the track gradually sheds its harmony as it progresses first into ambiences and later into a hissing, feedback-heavy flurry of intermittent noise.

Viewed holistically, “Oh Baby” might serve as a microcosm of the electronic music listener’s journey into the genre: Beginning in the recognizable realm of discernible harmonic instrumentality, it drifts gradually – even coherently - into a world of jarring noise and floating scraps of melody echoing into dissolution, embodied perfectly by Erica Eso’s halting vocals toward the end of the piece.

Horaflora’s “My Acoustica” B-side begins exactly where “Oh Baby” left off, in the midst of creaking, sampled laughter, and prolonged, jarring notes. In contrast to the Brad Henkle and Erica Eso’s measured instrumentalism, Horaflora’s Raub Roy employs a sound-collage style, melding what the artist terms “sounds, noises, tones, audibilities, vibrations, waves, and recordings,” and remains in one spot for its entirety – and rightfully so. Discernible within the thick layers of the beautifully consistent track are the sounds of cassette and record players starting up and functioning; the weary hiss of dated technology over ambient drones and wails evoking the image of some giant creature in the darkness, radiating feedback and trailing magnetic tape as it lurches slowly from one hidden place to the next. Central to “My Acoustica” is a warm ominousness, one that perhaps consciously identifies the esoteric appeal of so-called retroformat, the familiarity of its frequent dysfunctionality and characteristic sounds of its tangible decay. At the end of just under 18 minutes, “My Acoustica” clicks and chirps into nonexistence, begging to be rewound.

This review will never truly resolve the great debate of the split, and I can’t purport to be able to offer you any advice besides the following: electronic, ambient, and noise fans, when you’re sorting your splits, save room beside the ice-cream products for this tape. Like the vanilla and chocolate soft-serve of yore, these two artists were meant to be enjoyed together.

Find it here: http://weirdearrecords.bandcamp.com/album/oh-baby-my-acoustica

Weird Ear Records: http://weirdear.com/home/

- - Neeraj Kumar

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