♫♪  Adrian Rew - “Slot Machine Music (Side A)”

C’mon big money, big money. I don’t feel comfortable in the casino environment. Somehow I don’t know I don’t think so c’mon babe big money. I walk into a casino and promise myself that I will only spend (waste) $20 dollars on whatever, usually slots, and I keep my promise. My max bet comes up 45 cents. It’s not even a matter of “resisting temptation.” It’s a war. All I’m tempted to do is leave without spending anything. Listen, what are you playing? I can’t play black jack, poker, roulette, etc., well enough to even fathom coming out ahead. Double bonus. So in the off chance that I’m dragged along to a casino for a friend’s birthday or something, as my posse presses their luck with the big kid games, I find solace in a few key factors. Press the spin button to see what you’ve won. #1: You can smoke cigarettes indoors. I wanted that one. #2: Slot machines hypnotize me. You just have to wait a minute, mom. I know that’s hard for you.

I listen to Adrian Rew’s field recordings of Midwest casinos, compiled into his album Slot Machine Music (originally issued as a CDr on Ergot Records), and I’m transported straight to the zone. By “the zone,” I don’t mean “the casino.” I mean the same mental fugue state and/or ecstasy sparked by Reich’s endless melodic repetitions, Nancarrow’s inhuman player piano rolls, or Headboggle’s grab-bag synth mangling. Rew’s overwhelming stereophonic mixes, populated by layer upon layer of manic arpeggios, klaxons, victory cheers, Wheel of Fortune fanfares, gambler commiserations, all captured from the perspective of a lone microphone, with all recorded machines improbably tuned to something like the same key by their manufacturers for the sake of good-time consonant vibes on the floor, transcend the physical reality of their recording sites (Horseshoe Casino, Cleveland, OH / Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, IN / Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, IL) to stand as successful “compositions” in their own right.

Key word: ~*# chance #*~. Just as the unwittingly recorded gamblers submitted themselves mind, body, and wallet to the rigged mistress of chance, Rew allowed only the natural conditions of the environment to shape his recording. The casino’s chaos is out of his, or anyone’s, control — other than the fatcats in the backroom stacking bands on bands on bands, pumping in the enhanced O2. Without the use of pedals, oscillators, tape machines, or any typical noise accoutrement, Rew’s recordings fit neatly into the Hanson Records catalog (alongside other already classic field recordings like the Nath Family’s Sounds of the Indian Snake Charmer) as a mind-fuck of rhythmic abandon and eardrum overload, frosted with that depressive sheen of hope and loss that keeps us all coming back for one more try, a little more, c’mon babe, big money.

You can preorder the picture disc from Hanson Records now. It ships in early September.

• Adrian Rew: http://ergotrecords.blogspot.com/
• Hanson Records: http://hansonrecords.bigcartel.com/

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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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