Somnambule - Writing About Music

Andrew Pekler ~ Nocturnes, False Dawns & Breakdowns

Venturing out seemingly for good from behind aliases Sad Rockets and Bergheim 34, Andrew Pekler’s second release for ~scape operates at the interstices of jazz, dub and glitch electronica. Occupying a midpoint between Jan Jelinek’s Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records and Triosk’s recent debut, it’s a denser, dirtier affair than 2002’s Station To Station, while continuing to explore the possibilities of electronically reconfiguring jazz improvisation. The noir theme alluded to by Pekler in titles such as Here Comes The Night, Nocturne and Sleepless is perhaps the least interesting part of the venture. Pleasure is to be found less in such hackneyed ambiences than in the music’s pollarded forms and the detail of its numerous small incidents: suspect echoes and hazy cymbal splashes shimmer in frothy seas replete with insistent, slippery rhythms, tentative electric piano and muscular bass. Form is fashioned from the sort of unexpected musical conjunctions that experienced improvisers are most likely to create. However, there’s a distinct, almost haunting sense of absence in Pekler’s project: the original, uncredited performers remain elusive, their journeys sampled, but ruthlessly cut, looped and pasted. It’s difficult to avoid the feeling that some potential for transcendence, whether originally realised or not, has also been lost. These deficits are made up for by a close attention to textural detail. Glitch’s power as an agent of corruption finds a greater, more convincing purchase on these materials than upon the rigid rhythmic armatures essayed in, for example, Mille Plateaux’s Clicks and Cuts series. The 14 tracks run to a slender total of 39 minutes, in fact a little more ambition in developing or unfolding compositions further would have been welcome. Notably, False Dawn’s 6 minutes of soaring harmonics and hall of mirrors saxophones proves fascinating. Despite the brevity of most of the pieces, the marriage of carefully sculpted form to a microcosmal attention to texture is a pleasure. Whether this presages the development of a new mini-genre is yet to be seen, but there’s certainly much promise in the approach.

Colin Buttimer
January 2005
Published by The Wire magazine