Somnambule - Writing About Music

Groundtruther ~ Longitude

Wow. I haven’t felt this energised by hearing new music in a long time. Groundtruther are a duo of drummer Bobby Previte and guitarist Charlie Hunter. For each release they invite a guest third performer and this time round it’s turntablist DJ Logic. All three performers have appreciable reps, with Logic and Previte regular contributors to the downtown NYC scene. Longitude is the second part of a trilogy, following on from Latitude and with Altitude to follow.

Longitude’s first track, Transit Of Venus, is fascinating for its strangeness. Beginning with DJ Olive’s wavering synthetic tones, shouts, drums and scratching follow to form a sonic melee with an appreciable sense of forward motion. Charlie Hunter announces his arrival with a power chord followed unexpectedly by a string of starkly abrasive notes. His overdriven sound drops in and out suddenly, while behind him Previte’s drums break up choppily as though heard via an unreliable connection. March 1741, Cape Horn again races forward pell mell, propelled by scratched voices, the haunted cries of night creatures and Previte’s high energy breakbeats. The instrumentation imparts the skeletal feel of a stripped-down racing machine, some kind of darkened dragster glimpsed roaring through the trees at midnight.

On the brief Course Made Good, Charlie Hunter begins by rocking out in pleasingly neanderthal style, but his guitar gradually recedes into a blurred fog, it’s sharpened dynamics blunted and eventually silenced. It’s a conceit I last heard on Foil, the first track on Autechre’s second album. Applied to live instrumentation the treatment acquires even greater power. Radical post-production of this sort is relatively rare for live performers, but very welcome – the sort of thing Teo Macero might have done to a chorus of outraged jazzers and eventually expunged (c.f. Miles Davis’s Go Ahead John). The louder tracks are interspersed with gentler exercises: Medicean Stars is a gorgeous, becalmed piece, an interplay between Hunter’s harmonics, signal noise from DJ Olive and semi-random percussion. It could loop for much longer than its two minute duration. Epherimedes is, likewise, another piece seemingly cut from the same cloth.

DJ Olive’s contributions really bring Longitude to life as he sketches and weaves significant amounts of atmosphere, leftfield intrusions and textures between Hunter and Previte. Previte is a really exciting drummer, going hell for leather as though the devil were chasing his tail and Hunter’s noise-ridden stylings are a pleasurable surprise. The connection between the music and the astral titling isn’t immediately obvious, but they make increasing intuitive sense and might be imagined as a distant accompaniment to Miles Davis’s tectonic references on Agharta/Pangaea. Longitude is convincing hybrid music with lashings of energy, originality and resonance.
Colin Buttimer
October 2005
Published by the BBC