Odd Clouds Deceiving Illusion

[Not Not Fun; 2009]

Styles: free jazz, psych, noise
Others: Cotton Museum, Slither, Sun Ra
{{Link:}} [Odd Clouds→http://www.tastysoil.com/oddclouds/] - [Not Not Fun→http://notnotfun.com] - [Tasty Soil→http://www.tastysoil.com]

The artwork of Chris Pottinger is controlled insanity. While the pictures show naked trolls riding a dog with three eyeballs oozing out of a single eye socket and a brain falling from its abdomen, the drawings are still all cartoons, with a palette of only about four colors, a thick black outline, and a very silly and playful mind conjuring the images. The artwork is a bad trip expressed through hands. Yes, the colors are vibrant and the cartoons sophomoric and silly, but there’s a frightening intent behind them: it documents a frightening psychedelic world of deformed creatures in various states of disease and dismemberment. Odd Clouds, one of Pottinger's many bands, is just another way to express this sickly aesthetic world of which he has laid the foundation.

The music is more or less a series of improvisations using trombones, saxophones, and other horns over basic rock instrumentation. The pieces are later manipulated with filters and effects, and the result is a free and bizarre aural universe of your mind turning on you. The third and fourth tracks -- both untitled -- evoke images of Pottinger’s art: silly, sad, frightening, and monstrous, all at once. It sounds like a bassoon and a trombone moaning while a sax squeals up and down chromatics like a dying duckling, as an angry and confused drummer convulses throughout. This leads directly into the next track, where the horns are all confusedly pacing around each other, squealing and squawling and skronking, the trumpet yelling at the trombone, the trombone honking at the sax, and a low and ominous hum beneath. A guitar chugs a single chord in the right ear, and another guitar smacks his tool in the left, and then all sounds stop.

The standout album closer is a breathing and thinking animal during the last hour of its life. Tribal battery noises skip and pummel, starting and stopping, following the delusional mind as it dips and bends around geometric figures in a dream state. Guitar notes curve and echo, one moment sounding beautiful and petite, only to reveal themselves to be evil and snaggle-toothed at another angle. The horn squeals from previous tracks has been replaced by desperate gasps and roars. The bass seems to be this big quivering and churning mammal outlining the chords like a horny whale in the water. It is all frightening chaos, yet still playful and enthralling. The end is tribal and the guitar spasms jazzy in a really out way. Then the track just peters out.

If Pottinger’s cartoon characters had opinions, personalities, and taste, this is definitely the music to which they would be listening. Cartoonish jazz and noise, sounds colliding like meteorites dawned in tribal war paint. The droney, psychedelic niche in experimental music right now has found its dark edge to counterpoint MDMA smiles and THC giggles. While the art of member Chris Pottinger might be silly and cartoonish, it also represents something dark, unnatural, and frightening about that stripe of aesthetic. Likewise, this album is garish and hallucinogenic and silly, but it also doesn’t sit too well in a dark room. With terms like “chillwave” being thrown around on a regular basis at this point, it is good to hear a group show a darker and scarier side of drug music than plastic flamingos and pastel palm trees.

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