Despite an uptick in activity in the past year, one suspects that Eddie Ruscha Jr. isn’t looking to surrender the laidback and low-key aspect of Secret Circuit‘s music anytime soon. There have been opening dates for idiosyncratic indie artists such as Panda Bear and Ariel Pink and remixes ranging from a dreamy take on DFA’s Museum of Love to a ludicrously dubbed-out version of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It”. But rather than go for bigger beats or more epic statements, he seems content to just make crafty yet understated tracks, touching on boogie, Balearic, cosmic disco, ambient, and leftfield dance music without ever alighting on one place too long. There’s an underlying attitude to the music that makes you think that Ruscha’s side project Blasé might just be truth in advertising.
Cosmic Vibrations—despite the spaciness of its title—is at its most delightful the closer it stays to terra firma. The second compilation of tracks culled from a run of cassettes self-released between 1996 and 2012, Vibrations isn’t too different in feel to 2012’s Tropical Psychedelics, though the beats all feel a bit looser the second time around, less concerned with getting your feet to move than your head to nod. Opener “Out West” features the kind of slow, sputtering drum machine that could be bought from Sly Stone’s yard sale, Ruscha then adding analog keys and a reverberating guitar lifted from a desert noir, ample echo applied to all components until at one point they blur into a haze.
As opposed to Tactile Galactics and Tropical Psychedelics, the tracks aren’t wholly dependent on old analog synthesizers for their melodies as instead Ruscha adds licks of guitar to the mix. Much like his sometimes collaborator Torn Hawk, he processes and compresses the strings until they take on strange new quicksilver shapes. Around the tribal thump of “Cartusian Log Book” are picked guitar lines—run through effects until their notes resemble bubbles from an upturned water cooler jug—which turn to ripples on the surface of the track. Another twanging set of exotic strings sync with the machine clicks of “Minimal Vibrations”.
On most of his tracks, there’s a feel not unlike a pied bunch of genres of all different colors all wadded up into a big Play-Doh ball, which at times makes tracks gum up into something not quite as distinct as its components. “Straightline” uses a shuffling digital reggae beat and shoots it through with backwards guitars and Ruscha’s own murmured vocals, the effect not unlike an Alan Parsons Project outtake. “Nova Laser” is a pleasant enough groove of an instrumental, but in light of other L.A.-based producers of a similar ilk (think Benedek, Suzanne Kraft or Stones Throw folks) the track feels unfinished. A guitar sears across the tropical hot dog marimbas of “Somnambulation” yet the track just wanders away after engaging you.
Had Inherent Vice been set a bit deeper in the 1970s, Ruscha could have provided the perfect soundtrack to sync with those washed-out SoCal vibes, stoned yet groovy. Yet on standouts like the hummed-harmony chug of “She Got Love” (which sounds like a ’70s Beach Boys outtake tweaked by Todd Terje) and “Shockers”, Ruscha weds outer space phasers to an irresistible cosmic disco thump, concocting a psychedelic level of synergy that would make any Californian glow.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/15aNlRm