Moon B Lifeworld

[1080p; 2014]

Styles: private funk
Others: DâM-FunK, Loose Shus, Delroy Edwards, Turquoise Summers

Moon B (a.k.a. Wes Gray) has already made it clear he has little patience for DAWs, non-linear editing, and menu-driven operating systems, having cranked out five high-quality releases for DC archive raiders PPU that are heavy on real-time arrangements, warped analogue melodies, and tape-smudged electro-funk. Gray is a distracted traditionalist, faithful to the substance of old records but hazy in matters of structure. His relationship with PPU, not to mention his remix work for Greeen Linez and PLAzA, fixes him at a point on the dance music spectrum where notions of orthodoxy and authenticity intersect.

For Lifeworld, the Atlanta-based producer has made the jump to Vancouver label 1080p, a move that casts both parties in a softer, weirder light. One of our favorite labels of 2014, 1080p has made its name as a deep-fried alternative to Opal Tapes, becoming a lightning rod for listeners on the lookout for wonky pop brut. The partnership finds Gray in no mood to play it straight. Bastardizing a mix of already-obscure and previously-unreleased tunes into a bundle of abrupt segues between ragged edits, he dims their overlit drama behind gossamer screens of tape-hiss and portamento drone. If earlier Moon B tracks drifted toward a place where well-worn grooves begin to stutter and choke, Lifeworld starts from that point and follows a jagged line toward collapse.

This approach has worked on 1080p in the past — the waterlogged beat-tape methodologies of Tulpa by Perfume Advert and Riohv’s Moondance spring to mind. Curiously, however, of all the 1080p releases to date, Lifeworld shares less with either of those tapes than it does with the high-gloss smart-rave of Zirconia Reign. Where Moondance and Tulpa sandbox the allusory play of sonic signifiers, Lifeworld and Zirconia mine objects rather than signs. Signs are vaporous and friction-free; their use is a matter of assembly, a question of interpretation. Objects, on the other hand, are specific and ready-made. They have a grain that must be worked, a set of physical properties that must be reckoned with.

The best way to make the most of this captivating tape includes a good deal of listening for the grain. Gray has namechecked Roland’s Alpha Juno 1 polysynth as a personal favorite, and I suspect that bad boy is ubiquitous here. Produced for commercial use in 1986, the Alphas (Juno 1 and Juno 2) struggled to win over consumers disappointed at their inability to generate classic Juno sounds. These machines have since acquired a reputation for versatility, handling bold riffs, fat basses, and understated pads equally well. Whatever the means, Lifeworld represents an artist beginning to explore the outer reaches of his craft. At once sultry and spectral, ghostly and hot, it records an intuitive dialogue between source and process that constitutes a hypnagogic work of freakishly funky salvage.

Links: Moon B - 1080p

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