Booker Stardrum
Dance And

It’s a Macy’s Dystopian Day parade during a hurricane in the head of one Booker Stardrum. He’s on a break from drumming in “post-instrumentalism” quartet VaVatican, whose c32 for NNA Tapes was an exercise in discovering the limit where virtuosity meets epilepsy meets pure freestyle. Stardrum has toned down his solo tape to two dimensions with his latest, Dance And: the rhythmic and timbral idiosyncrasies of his chosen instrument.

A “celebration of all things percussion.” The fanfare does not last very long. It’s midnight in the Vatican, when “Bells” are a-ringin’. The sad, collapsing arms of the bellman can barely compete with the surmounting wind, and Dance And begins, establishing the two voices that will continue to wage war through the tape. Your ears never knew how tantalized they’d be by noise of such purity and conviction. Imagine a soundtrack to a performance piece in which a matte cinereous Lamborghini Reventón drives around Piazzo San Marco, dragging a recently offed bull behind it. The bull is painted in glitter and leaves a cheerful, bloody rainbow trail behind it, as pigeons frantically try to get out of their way. Don’t imagine that. That’s absurd. The best experimental works come out of restraint.

While passages of intense, clattering toms — the sort of thing sports films like Whiplash tried desperately to emulate — are the most technical exercises this tape offers, the true meat in Dance And comes from keeling the explosions, hitting the breaks, and trying to bring Stardrum’s train of musical thought to a halt. Sometimes this results in the startling “Sands Dream.” In the case of “Dozier,” a single sample stretched to its granular limit becomes the reverberation in a cathedral after an earthquake. Howard Hughes obsessively searched for the right clouds to give his audience a true sense of speed. Stardrum excels in creating a similar illusion of motion by going as hard as he possibly can, and then slamming on the breaks and watching the dust fly.

Dance And is now available from NNA Tapes, and a Jeremy Wiles-Young-directed video for “Drim Dram” can be found here. Check out the full album below.

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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