Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Warm Climate - Edible Homes (Stunned Records CS)

Oh man, this latest Stunned batch keeps slaying me over and over. And I know it's been a while since I've been doing blog exclusive reviews (time don't come easy these days...) but sometimes I throw something on and just have to write about it. This is one of those...

I hadn't heard of Warm Climate before, but apparently it's the largely one man project of Seth Kasselman, whose been at it for a good decade or so. Glad I went into this release naively though, because it wasn't what I was expecting at all. I don't know who this Kasselman guy is or where he comes from, but he's the real deal for sure, employing realms too diverse to cover fully without ever losing sight of that disappearing craft, the album.

Side one opens with "Lost Teeth / Organ Donor," and it's a wild one to be sure. Starts off with this twisted, deeply psychedelic pop tune that sounds like David Bowie covering Syd Barrett without any of the poser moves put on by most people who heard Hunky Dory or The Madcap Laughs and couldn't believe it. With Kasselman it's more like he just makes his own version, with strummed guitar and grim background organ accompanying his ridiculously compelling vocal lines. Goes from sweet to twisted on a dime before turning into synth grind for a hot minute that leads into a real groover of a number with bass, drums, the whole bag. Psych blues rocker that holds it down with the best of them.

Most wild about this tape though is that the whole thing turns on a dime at a given moment. After the brief rocker the second track (I'm assuming), "Cave In," has Nick Schutz's clattering drum work riding above a collage of tape loops and murmuring vocals that recalls the psyched out tape explorations of decades past--like some far out "Revolution #9" style thing. After that it's beat city with "Edible Homes & Gardens / Synth Pads for Homeless," with Kasselman tapping into Marc Bolan via 80s synth pop as covered by Burial... really tough to grasp, but goddamn if it isn't a catchy and effective pop number at its core. Closes with further glitched collage excursions into drone caresses.

The second side opens with "Devine Souffle & the Southern Approach," which features a drum pulse over Kasselman's twisting song forms. Highly orchestrated stuff in its own right. You can tell with this material that the guy is far more than just a songwriter with a predilection for weird. This is a smart dude making interesting music, and constructing it from the ground up with vision in hand. Each number here is well played, well placed, well paced and well spaced. The dangerous finger-picked fragility of "Motion Picks Glaze," the closing "Gross Polluter," everything here is amazing and it flows with the arch and timing of something that's the result of real ideas. I know I hype a lot of stuff up here, and songwriters aren't usually my thing, but this is something different entirely. A minor masterpiece--tuck it in there between Skip Spence and Zweistein.

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