Published: February 15, 2013
By: Chris Schwarzkopf
I have to start out by saying that the dropping of any kind of Star Wars reference will always make me sit up and pay attention. That very thing occurs about midway through “Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy,” the second track on lespecial’s latest EP, Ceremony.
I found myself doubled over laughing in surprise as R2-D2’s assorted chirps, beeps and whistles emerge from the midst of the song’s Afro-Caribbean percussion.
At first, it’s just a straight-up audio snippet that’s repeated a few times, but then Jonathan Grusauskas starts playing with it: changing the pitch, drawing out individual tones, running them in reverse and finally, constructing a beat out of them. It’s a highly unusual, but also highly imaginative move. I’ve never before heard that used as a sample.
As with many livetronica or experimental albums, Ceremony doesn’t bow to an overarching theme. Each of the five tracks can stand alone and each is meant to showcase a different mix of influences. And Luke Bemand, Rory Dolan and Jonathan Grusauskas throw seemingly everything they can lay their hands on into the mix, which is in keeping with their style of playing and performing.
The EP careens from New Age drum circle into acid funk, back to drum circle, to buzzing, squawking synths and then finally to drum and bass. Live guitar and drums, wind chimes, flute, Hammond B3 organ, a variety of percussion and the odd audio sample can all be heard.
Ceremony’s tone is more low key, as befits the title. Some of the New England-based trio’s previous work has quite a strong rock and jazz influence, and maybe even a bit of pop and punk, while still including an electronic presence. On this EP those influences are revealed only a couple times.
Ceremony is quite a mishmash of styles. Of lespecial’s releases so far, it’s probably the hardest to classify. But, in keeping with my earlier comment, I’ll say that even though it’s highly unusual, it’s also highly imaginative.
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