Delarosa & Asora
In the age of bedroom studios, high quality digital recording devices, and where a kid with a G4 can produce professional-like records, being prolific isn’t what it used to be. Yet, while technology makes recording easier than ever it also forces a greater emphasis on mastery of the craft. So while Beck may have cranked out three full-length records in 1994, how much of that material was actually listenable? Yes, at first glance an artist’s sheer volume of work may seem impressive, the listener’s emphasis shifts to the substance with due speed. In that respect, Scott Herren’s (otherwise known as Delarosa & Asora on Schematic, Savath+Savalas on Hefty, and Prefuse 73 on Warp) propensity to crank out numerous records with little sacrifice in excellence is simply astounding.
Over the past few years the Atlanta native of many pseudonyms has honed his version of minimalist, dingy but jazzy electronic expeditions while also somehow having time to add his touches to others’ records. While his Savath+Savalas and Prefuse 73 records are meritorious in their own right, when one considers Herren’s additions to Floraline’s shamefully underappreciated 1999 self-titled LP (Minty Fresh), production on former Seely’s Seconds (the second album by Too Pure’s first ever American signee), and keyboard work on William Carlos William’s White Women (the experimental Atlanta band, not the modernist poet) his body of work becomes even more daunting.
It is against this background that Delarosa & Asora has arisen and quickly produced an impressive 12-track LP as well as a less substantial but rather interesting six-track EP. On my first listen, Agony left me transfixed on its inner workings from its first tone to its last. The record begins with faucet-like drip on “Wooden Toes” which mutates into the track’s foundational beats then hides behind Herren’s atmospheric textures, more closely revealing themselves at each opportune moment. The beats, more aptly described as crackles, are easily likened to Stefan Betke’s (Pole) 4-Pole Waldorf Filer, however, where Pole makes the filter almost its entire gig, Herren uses his crackles as white-wash on what becomes a deeply colored canvas. Crackle and static ebb and flow, but it is the plush and evocative textures that allow Agony to have such great effect. Tumbling the listener from melancholy to anger to flashes of bliss, Herren molds a most transient and exotic record. One will inevitably draw comparisons to Herren’s more widely acclaimed Warp mates, Boards of Canada, but with patience will discover Agony is realized in a way that, for example, Music Has the Right to Children was not. Herren’s movements on his four “Paz Suites” (tracks seven through 10) are bracing and “Paz Suite 3” a true modern symphony.
While listening to Backsome immediately after Agony is inadvisable—the former lacks the polish of the LP—the EP should also not be missed. On Backsome, Herren appears dedicated to plunge into alien territory as its sounds are dissonant, almost atonal at times, whereas Agony generally feels so well-settled even when chaotic. The dizzying flurry of samples on “Uptown Ad One” and its deeper beats as well as those on “And a Needle Maybe” make for a more violative listen.