Andrew Pekler Cue

[Kranky; 2007]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: instrumental, space age bachelor pad, krautrock, cinematic
Others: Air, Broadcast, Jan Jelenik

Andrew Pekler’s latest offering looks toward the anonymity of library music for inspiration. Just to make sure we’re all up to speed: library LPs were specifically designed for film and TV, often allowing artsy composers and electronic innovators to receive an otherwise nonexistent paycheck for their work; it's not as much selling out as it is survival (and more tasteful than hearing the Shins in a McDonald’s commercial). Over the years, library recordings have become a niche market in the world of record collecting, and on the rare occasions when collectors actually listen to their records, they find some famous musicians making music that is quite good.

While Pekler doesn't claim to be making library music, he’s made homage to the genre by including each track's supposed functionality in its title. For example, “Ambiguous western atmosphere resolving into children’s tune, swirling cymbals added” are the program notes for “Roomsound,” which does indeed contain a simple theme over a clip-clopping, horse-walking rhythm. Like a composer putting some of his creative instincts aside and following the various parameters to which music could accommodate a setting, Pekler wrote these notes as loose guidelines prior to composing each piece. They aren’t always this literal, often subjective enough that they don’t necessarily describe the audio, but it’s all part of his salute to the genre.

Musically, Pekler could be composing for any contemporary indie film. Cue embodies setting, with no solos and no inherent structure. Free-flowing loops and sweeping analog synths are just as likely to casually blossom into something greater as they are to sit there, losing track of time. Although he’s not anonymous, he recognizes that anonymity has a stylistic stamp of its own, and he is able to exploit that. It’s a quality that’s common amongst instrumental post-rockers, but Pekler’s perspective on it is strangely refreshing. While he edits and manipulates his sound alongside the best of his contemporaries, his instrumentation sounds aged 30 years, with very hip layers of dust. Ultimately, it’s easier not to wonder whether his concept is successful, because musically, Cue is stunning on its own.

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