Strategy - Graffiti in Space Music Album Reviews

Strategy - Graffiti in Space Music Album Reviews
Turning his ear for imperfection toward dub techno, versatile producer Paul Dickow turns out six tracks that conceal worlds of activity under their grimy patina.

Paul Dickow, best known as the Portland, Oregon, electronic musician Strategy, once sent a demo to a European dance-music imprint, and the Europeans liked it—they just wanted it a little cleaner, tighter, more professional sounding. Problem was, Dickow liked to record on a ragtag setup of borrowed or busted gear, jamming live straight to two-track stereo. He didn’t have a high-end audio interface; it would have been impossible to edit the muck out of his tracks even if he’d wanted to. But eventually he realized that dance music—even the most crowd-pleasing, floor-filling dance music—needs to have something a little bit wrong with it. “That’s what’s great about well-done yucky music,” he told Resident Advisor. “You’re like, ‘Fuck! It sounds so fucked up and I keep listening to it, I can’t tune it out.’” Science bore this out, he reasoned: The ear is attuned to imperfection. “We map sound by what’s wrong,” he said. “If it’s fucked up and it has a hook, then you have this delicious problem, and that’s where I think I live.”

For more than 20 years, Dickow has been exploring different shades of wrongness in his music, finding delicious problems in loose-limbed house jams, intransigent rave anthems, and ambient nodders that sound like they’ve been stewing in battery acid. On Graffiti in Space, Dickow turns his ear for imperfection toward dub techno. It’s an audacious proposition, if only because dub techno is so often treated as a color-by-numbers exercise; it’s among dance music’s most formulaic styles. Berlin duo Basic Channel perfected the form almost as soon as they had pioneered it, and three decades later, it’s less a living genre than a museum piece. But where most latter-day dub techno is vaporous, billowing, and virtually friction-free, Dickow digs gleefully into the gunk.

The opening “Remote Dub” has all the hallmarks of the style: pulsing minor chords, plunging dub bassline, metronomic beat. Filters yawn open and closed around a hazy ostinato wash. The mood is somewhere between gently narcotic and pleasantly narcoleptic. But the texture is classic Strategy—soft and sticky as a bag of candy on the dashboard. All six tracks on the 41-minute album have a similarly damaged patina. Dickow is fond of building his own effects units—compressor pedals, spring reverb—and it sounds like it; you can practically smell the globs of solder sizzling between the notes. “Fountain of Youth” opens with metallic wisps twisting over a loud electrical hum, and the atmosphere is periodically punctuated by laser-zapping feedback squeals. The elements sound like they’re competing for space on the tape: Every time that shrill siren comes through, it seems to suck up all the air in the room. But it’s also a viscerally powerful track, with a cascading dub bassline that threatens to flood the mix.

“Message From Ouroboros” is even heavier, with a pounding, butcher-block beat and a lithe modal bassline that bares sharp teeth every time the filters pull back. The sounds are in constant flux and the groove moves with a playful strut. It’s the polar opposite of contemporary dub techno’s tasteful efficiency: sweaty, rough, and ungainly, and you can tell that Dickow likes it that way. But elsewhere on the album, the drums are little more than phantasms, and some of the finest tracks are all but ambient. “Daydream Space Graffiti” sends burbling chords floating over a pastel-colored churn, like a syrupy riposte to Pole, and the closing “Surface Worlds” is similarly buoyant, a pointillistic field of shifting colors. But even at his most bucolic, Dickow refuses to let complacency dictate his choices. As calm as a track like “Surface Worlds” might appear, beneath the surface there’s a world of activity: a soft riot of competing frequencies and haphazard counterpoints colliding and drifting apart again. A firm believer in the power of accident, Dickow harnesses all these imperfections into music that moves with unmistakable grace.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Strategy - Graffiti in Space Music Album Reviews Strategy - Graffiti in Space Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 02, 2023 Rating: 5


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