“Come and take a trip in my rocketship,” goes a vocal sample used as a sort-of hook on one track on Talon Slalom, a solo album from Blevin Blectum, one half of the warped electronic duo Blectum From Blechdom. The album is an hour-long trip on the rocketship that is Blevin Blectum’s imaginative musical mind. A dizzying swirl of beats, loops, samples and sounds picks you up and steers you through an assortment of moods, from chaotic and dark to pretty and placid. Many of the rhythms and tones of dance music are here, but they carry with them the steely near-impenetrability of the most avant garde sonic art. That mix—along with the presence of bright, almost video-game-like noises—gives Talon Slalom a pleasurable complexity. You never know what to expect, but you’re always engrossed and ready.
Starting with a track called “Kleasy” that sounds like a ride on some sort of space-age freight elevator, the album’s early tracks mix sliced and diced soul, funk and pop bits with sounds like laser beams, cutting knives and odd spoken or sung non-sequitors. As the album proceeds, Blevin delivers all sorts of bizarre varieties of electronic music, including the silent-but-deadly whirrings of “Bright Blood”, a short, schizo pop cartoon called “Just the Way You Are” and something called “Preserving Machine #2”, which feels like an introduction to an evil robot followed by a trip inside it. As the album continues on towards its end, there’s a number of tracks that take gentle, ambient lullabies and coat them with an extra layer of eeriness, like “Tipt on Off Flipped” and “Duck Hunt Cascade”.
Pretty much any release by Blectum From Blechdom or its two members (Blevin and Kevin Blectum) will be puzzling, something that will get the mechanics of your brain whirring while you feel the disparate sounds. Talon Slalom is no different, which should be a delightful fact for anyone interested in new or challenging music.
The music on the Talon Slalom album was created for a live performance that sets it to a movie directed and produced by Ryan Junell. Together the film and the music delve into similar themes, though without seeing the whole performance it’s hard to say with any certainty what those are. The CD does include a Quicktime excerpt from that film (though I should admit that I couldn’t get it to work on my computer), so you can get a taste for what the complete experience would be like. If the film is anything like the music, it’s no doubt enigmatic, experimental and well worth experiencing.
In the album’s cover art, also designed by Junell, the talons of an unseen bird (or birdlike creature) grab onto the head of a skier, who might or might not be frozen. Talon Slalom the album will captivate listeners and tear their heads off, but they’ll be happy afterwards. It’s an intoxicating trip.
// Notes from the Road
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