Each welcome burst of new material from Golden Retriever provides the singular delight of hearing a live unit stretch their performance tactics into new and unexpected directions. Since the beginning of their catalog, Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff have excelled at juxtaposing the academic, tightly-controlled strains of contemporary electronic, ambient synth, and long-form drone musics with the freewheeling, lyrical voice of live woodwind performance. More than a synthesis of “human” and “inhuman” elements, Golden Retriever offers the chance to perceive joyful irregularities within the order of rigid electronic systems, as each voice airs its fine grain in the context of a larger spectrum of interlocked tones.
“Flight Song,” a cut from the duo’s forthcoming LP Seer, crams numerous opportunities for sonic discovery into its seven minutes of running time. Hear Carlson’s ornate modular synth patch blossom from a series of self-consuming arpeggio phrases into soaring lead passages, chiming through gorgeous chordal progressions in recursive jaunts up and down the scale. Sielaff’s bass clarinet fanfares duck and weave through the sympathetic trails of synth melody, alternately bolstering the lower register with moments of subdued resonance and sliding through a motif that comes to serve as the piece’s recurring head. The resultant session has the potential to lift the opera glasses of the stodgiest contempo-classical boffo, and send basement synth-freaks off scrambling to grip previous releases before their glory fades into the shelfspaces of the savvier OGs.