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Supersprite

Color Mixing

(Audio Dregs Recordings; US: 18 Jun 2002; UK: 10 Jun 2002)

"I Don't Spend Time Reflecting on Pins Dropping", Supersprite declares in

The first track brings us into Supersprite’s world by introducing the cast of characters: vibrating, turning, shimmering electronic sounds. Yet this track also immediately demonstrates that Supersprite’s music doesn’t just present blips and buzzes, but use such sounds to craft intricate creations that have mood and atmosphere but also melody. “I Don’t Spend Time . . .” presents churning electronic rhythms but then on top of that adds several layers of electronic tones that offer both a melody and complementary harmonies. What happens, then, is you’re paying attention to the overall ambience and to the unique sounds without realizing that melodies are slowly sinking into your brain, melodies that’ll arise a few hours later when you find yourself humming and can’t figure out where you picked up the tune.


That combination of atmosphere and melody is not only what sets Supersprite apart from much electronic music but a mark of his label, Audio Dregs Recordings, and the Portland, Oregon scene from which both Supersprite and Audio Dregs come. Supersprite is Howard Gillam, and he’s been performing live in Portland for years. That Audio Dregs is his label is fitting, as Supersprite’s sound fits snugly next to that of E*Vax and E*Rock, the label’s founders, and many of the other artists as well. E*Vax himself, whose music is similar in nature if slightly different in style, shows up here to collaborate with Supersprite on “Farewell Cosmo”, an elegiac dream that features both squeaky noises and booming bass. It’s one of the album’s two collaborations, the other featuring the group Nudge on a track called “Pleasure Model”.


Color Mixing is only slightly longer than 50 minutes, yet feels rich and textured, like you’ve sunk yourself into a new home. Though the overall sound of the album remains the same from start to finish, within that sound there’s a breadth of differing styles and feelings. “Spraycopter” starts with an electronic-popcorn-type noise and a slightly hip-hop groove before succumbing to moody waves of synth. “Ghosts at the Fireworks Factory” has a glowing effervescence that evokes the otherworldliness of its title.


Each track starts one way and goes several others, offering that same satisfying feeling you get when a meal you’re eating reveals different subtleties with each bite, or when a film or novel unwraps itself in surprising ways. The songs on Color Mixing are given imaginative titles—“Let’s Form a Puddle” or “Theme from ‘Prism Pies’”, for example—but the songs themselves top that by taking you on head-twirling trips of their own. Color Mixing is a mysterious, colorful dream brought to life through music.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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