♫♪  Nicolas Gaunin / Marimba - Noa Noa / What Is Life If You Can’t Be Punched and Then Get a Kiss


Artetetra lives for the unusual, the weird, the unconventional. What else do you expect from a tape label based in a tiny town in Italy (Potenza Picena) that once was home to the Farfisa organ factory? I expect nothing less than a catalog full of deep dives into whatever passed for exotic in the 1970s, that’s what. And I am not disappointed, not here, not in February 2018, when fond nostalgia for that era collides head on with modern recording techniques and gear. Let’s wander through this veritable equatorial paradise, shall we?

Fresh off the dishwashing (!) release series with DJ Balli and Shit & Shine, Artetetra winds up and tosses a meatball of a tape by Nicolas Gaunin right down the middle of the plate, which they then somehow swing at with a bat and knock out of the proverbial park, rendering this metaphor deeply useless (and possibly even disturbing to some). No matter, because the point is taken: Noa Noa is a huge hit, especially in Tahiti and among the Banda Linda of central Africa.

Rocking nothing but two sequencers, a laptop, and a toy keyboard, Gaunin fires off several polyrhythmic missives that ping around your brainpan till your feet start to wiggle involuntarily. Soon the warm sun shines upon your shoulders, baking you in pure tropical exposure, but not too much, because, you know, harmful UV effects and all that. As the sonics burrow deeper into you, you have this weird notion of redecorating your house in wood paneling and tiki furniture… Don’t fight it, feel it.

After a tape that pretty much sounded like an expanded psychedelic exploration of the marimba (not to simplify or anything, I’m just serving my stupid narrative), what could possibly be the perfect follow-up? A tape by a duo called Marimba! *Rimshot* What Is Life If You Can’t Be Punched and Then Get a Kiss is an obvious paean to passion — the title paraphrases Colombian poet Romulo Mora Saenz in his yearning for love and marriage, his ideal woman being one who does the titular two things to his face.

So I’m married, and that’s just crazy. My “ideal” certainly does not involve face punching.

Still, Marimba — a duo composed of Elia Buletti (the Das Andere Selbst label, among other things) and Paul Jones (co-founder of Stolen Recordings, also among other things) — knows no limits in their improvisational skills. With warped and manipulated and otherwise processed snippets of live studio recordings, What Is Life… sprawls over each side, a stitched-together fabric of rhythmic experimentation, tropicalia, jazz, and electroacoustic collage. Does it ever sit still and wallow in its own self-absorbed noise? Not on your life! Which means that it’s probably too shifty for anyone to actually get punched in the face. (There likely won’t be any kissing either, though, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.)

Pop in, press play, hallucinate, possibly on a beach, possibly back in time, probably in the 1970s. This stuff is a solid gold trip.

Chocolate Grinder

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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