Monday, May 11, 2015
Cassette Review: Ross Fish "The Pelican Curse" (Bridgetown Records)
[$6 // Edition of 50 // https://rossfish.bandcamp.com/album/the-pelican-curse // https://bridgetownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-pelican-curse]
I'm not going to pretend to know what "The Pelican Curse" refers to exactly and I'm not going to google this one either (No, really, I'm not) But I know pelicans have those huge mouths they use to scoop up lots of fish to eat at once and so perhaps I wonder if their curse is having such a big mouth and that in turn reflects on humans in the way that they can sometimes have a big mouth as well. It's one of those things where they wouldn't have anything to talk about if you didn't give them anything to talk about, am I right? Only in the scenario of music and writing about music you want to give them something to write about because that is why people will listen.
Ross Fish begins things with glass, yet sharp feedback bliss as well. It's oriental in the undertones and then also creates the sound of rocks being shifted around somehow. Not that long ago, I saw a post on Facebook from Troma about the movie "Cannibal! The Musical" and ever since I've wanted to watch it again. So it might not be a coincidence that the sound of these rocks moving to me sounds like when you'd use that sifter to get all the small bits out and then shake it around and look for gold. They called it prospecting but I don't think people really do it anymore. (Not coincidentally, my wife also told me one of the more popular female baby names is Clementine and, well, I'll just leave you with that because it got me singing "Met a miner, '49er" which is certainly along the same lines)
With sonar beeps you have to understand that the beginning of this cassette is between those pleasant, blissful tones that I am used to hearing but they are paired with those sharp sounds of feedback I hear often as well. It's just that they seem like two opposing forces and so it is strange to hear them in unison. It's not so much that they're fighting each other though, as I hear it more of a chance to find the beauty in the terror. Deep strings also come out and they make me think of something that isn't quite a cello but could be a bass violin if such an instrument was to exist. Wavy Transformers bring out swirls, tones and a series of computer beeps which to me- and probably only me- sound like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
Many of these robotic beeps come into play and they have a faint reminder of R2D2 about them but I wouldn't so much say that they are straight up R2D2 as I have heard before. There are still these ambient glow winds behind the beeping though and, yes, that is their technical term I do believe. Some of these beeps begin to channel the "Doogie Howser" theme song, which is what I like to think of as "doctor beeps" simply to keep away the brand names. Tones swirl and the songs beep as we venture somewhere in between a pinball game and fax/modem sound to end out the side.
Side B opens with lightsaber/bug zapper spots. It's still oriental and even a little bit modem like, with whistles somehow, and as such I begin to start looking for the ways in which this side stands out from Side A rather than the ways in which they are the same. Some Transformers sounds bring out an uplifting/inspirational piece that reminds me a lot of something that would go well with Bo Dallas for those current WWE fans out there. An accordion appears to come out next, as we get into lightsaber scratches. Hints of "Baba O'Riley" can be heard as well.
As we have our first appearance in quite some time by an artist of "The Cosmic Key" (and it seems like I see a post from Dolph Lundgren on my Facebook feed every day, even more so now since Dark Horse released that art book about He-Man) we then journey into space beeps and then back into Doogie as well. How this whole thing ends is with this piece of 8bit/modem sounds that has a melody to it and if I had to compare with anything else it would have to be that Owl City song "Fireflies" but in reality it is much different than that.
A lot of the story that is being told on "The Pelican Curse" is being told through a series of beeps, which is interesting in and of itself because it has a certain amount of melody and can have you just feeling different things, which you might not have expected. The beeping is perhaps most heard in either alarm type sounds, morse code or robots but even though there are traces of robots in here this isn't like any other type of beeping I've really heard in music before. The fact that it is new (or a new twist on something you may already have heard, in the sense that it could be described as "new beeps") is not what makes it great. How these sounds are presented is what makes this so great.
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