Last we heard from Max Alper, he’d just dumped a lot of his old electronic projects on Soundbutt and we threw a couple of the projects in your general direction. As of late, he’s begun a cassette label called jojotape for improvised and outsider music, and we’re happy to say he’s got some great material on there. Today, Max shared with me his most recent jojotape release, a split LP between himself and one Laura Hajek entitled Big Haus Split C60. It’s a sonically diverse and eclectic array of tracks which is sure to reward the careful listener – check it out!
The first track on the release, “Gin,” is about as fucked up as the track title might suggest: it presents itself almost like a bedroom pop song, featuring Laura’s gentle vocals, but the backing acoustic guitar track is so dissonant that it’s almost hard to follow along sometimes. “UBMH,” streamable above, is a pleasant departure from the abrasive introduction, though it’s certainly not a straightforward number. Shimmering, almost backward-loop-sounding beats play out under Laura’s hazed mumblings, and we’re occasionally treated to bright, front-and-center piano melodies that play out in a sort of ambling, barely-related way. It’s a fascinatingly disjointed composition. Weird stuff.
“Champagne” just might be my favorite track on this one – it puts bubbling, watery sounds (pop them bottles) at the forefront of the mix, and loops them over and over as if we were in the midst of a Oneohtrix Point Never album. It’s an almost coy sample source choice whose use in composition is both artful and amusing. I love it. I don’t even know how to characterize this composition – it’s at times as blaring as a Z100 DJ mix, but also subtle and ominous. “Bubblegum” recalls Jenny Hval, at least for me – whispered, obscured vocal parts over booming percussion and circling synth layers.
Max’s ‘side’ of the split is considerably less fragmented, composed of simply two parts (17 and 11 minutes, respectively). I’ve attached the first part above for you to listen to, which Max recommends you listen to in headphones. “Sidechain Rhythms I” is, overall, an underwater experiment – all seventeen minutes of this track sound entirely submerged, echoing the bubbly sounds of “Champagne.” There’s almost no melody or tone besides the gigantic trails of reverb and delay which follow every percussive element; I also can pick out some extremely subby bass tones, which resemble percussion much more so than melodic elements. I listened to this for the first time while playing video games, and it had an almost stupefying effect upon my play; it has a forward motion to it, but it’s an inertial motion, not a dynamic or frenetic one. There is certainly a rhythmic crescendo over the course of the piece, but its most idiosyncratic traits are its dull thud and its ever-trailing echoes (think of one of the bleaker Radiohead tracks).
If I had one complaint about this split tape, it would be that the two sides of the tape don’t even really seem like they’re from the same release. Laura’s contributions are loose, avant-garde pop sketches while Max’s are pensive, bassy rumblings and clickings; each ‘side’ has its own shares of highs and lows (and even cyclical aspects – the formal structure of Laura’s side has a pleasant bell-curve shape to it) but at no point am I left feeling that there’s a significant sense of cohesion between the artists in anything besides dedication to experimentation and non-regurgitated composition. That’s admirable, you know – music is often an exercise in recycling pop hooks ad infinitum – but still, when I hear more from this dynamic duo, I expect to hear a little bit more of a pre-planned sonic partnership. In any case, Big Haus Split C60 is an adventurous experiment in loop composition and electronic production which is sure to delight and surprise listeners who are patient and attentive. I’ll certainly have my eye on jojotape for more releases like this.