In many ways, IDM (intelligent dance music for the google-impaired) is the anti-dubstep. Like dubstep, it’s loud and heavy but unlike dubstep there’s almost no way to predict what the hell is going to happen next. In dubstep you know that one whomp will be followed by a similar whomp. Now that dubstep has caught on, caught on like devastating a forest fire ripping through millions of acres of pristine, unsoiled wilderness to be precise, the repetition works against the genre rather than for it. It’s factors like this that make me really miss Aphex Twin’s golden era.
One Houstonian, Jonathan Barber, feels exactly the same way. You might have been acquainted with his work at the Fitzgerald’s open mic. You might remember him being ejected from the stage after chopping and screwing the living shit out of “Lady in Red” until it sounded like a funeral dirge for the Church of Satan. At any rate, he’s recently released an album that’s been ten years in the making. “Watch Out Honey, we’re using technology” is a whirlwind of dark, ghoulish beats woven into a 46 minute long tapestry sure to make anyone uncomfortable. Track 6 is a prime example of this. Pulse Rifle goes far beyond the occasional glitchiness of Polygon Window or Aphex Twin to create lightning fast sequences that straddle the line between music and noise. Melodies are loose and amorphous. No song is the same as when it started.
Highlights are the slow creep of “The Arrival of Bass” and the almost orchestral din of “Bright Red Siren”. The album’s title “Look out honey ’cause I’m using technology” is an appropriate homage to Stooges song “Search and Destroy”. Barber’s debut is ferocious, untamed, and not tailored to be accessible to anyone. While he also is skilled in crafting dance beats, this album is not to be danced to as much as it is musical accompaniment to an epileptic seizure. One last note for listeners: put on headphones. This is a texturally rich album that deserves maximum diligence on your part.
You can get the album on Pulse Rifle’s Band Camp for a mere 6 bucks.