Zammuto Veryone [EP]

[Temporary Residence Ltd; 2016]

Styles: organic electronic, samples, loops with a difference
Others: The Books, Charles Spearin, Balam Acab

Of Zammuto’s Veryone EP, bandleader Nick Zammuto said, “In many ways it feels like coming home.” More so than previous Zammuto albums, which explored a range of textures and instrumentation through a four-piece band, Veryone returns to the sound of Zammuto’s work in The Books: vibrant looped vocal samples and live instrumental melodies wrapped around heavily-processed, experimental sounds.

“My Dog’s Eyes” is a minimalist meditation on looped vocal melodies that serve as a basis for more expanded textural development. The result is something like the mechanized repetition of Philip Glass or Steve Reich, but more joyful. “You Can Feel So Good” also comprises sequences of looped vocal samples, these ones lifted from 1970s meditation tapes; it features instruments built by the band, one of them being the speaker for re-recording featured on the album’s cover.

“Smolt” is instrumental, featuring a delayed fretless Epiphone SG guitar. It recalls the most distinctive track from The Books’ album Lost and Safe, “Vogt Dig for Kloppervok”: low, fast oscillations suck the air out of the room while vivid samples — wet rain, crackling fire — chase each other around the field, pushing panning to its limits; acoustic, electric, and electronic sounds intertwine.

No frequency is left unaccounted for. This is a crisp, insistently sentient style of production that forces us into our head, high definition, in the best sense of that term. Even the scratches come off as clean. Details are where the pleasure’s at — the brief, miniature pitch bends tucked way down low in the track, the clicks that pause for a curve of a millisecond like they’re refusing to do what a good click track does.

Like a heartbeat, the beats on Veryone are fidgety, purposeful, never robotic. Zammuto splits the difference between human and machine — the tracks feel precise, laser-cut like a diamond, but we sense the human operator. The vocal samples are characteristically humane, preoccupied with sensation, perception, and attention to connections: “These were children who hadn’t yet lost their sense of wonder.”

Sometimes the word/music juxtapositions are a bit too obvious (“a fast train rushing,” while the tempo slows down), but other times, the music does what the words only talk about doing. The samples say: “Let yourself feel your own heart pumping,” and the sounds quicken our pulse. When I pause the music and go outside, conversations feel like a lost cause, because I hear other people’s speech like the music that it is, to which Veryone attunes us — sound and silence ecstatically playing off each other, breath like a beat, words as melodies placed neatly in time.

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