Published Apr 12, 2019It's doubtful that musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer fully comprehended the can of worms he was opening when he spliced his first tape, and put everyday sounds on the same level as traditional instrumentation. If presented with David Madson's latest Odd Nosdam album, his head may very well have exploded.
Produced, mixed and mastered between 2015 and 2018, Mirrors was entirely constructed using found sounds, utilizing the lost art of crate digging to source rarities and private pressings. Operating in a similar fashion to the early works of Amon Tobin — if he went for a blunted downtempo vibe instead of drum & bass — these finds were then manipulated and collaged into a kickass beat tape on par with anything else in Madson's impressive solo catalogue.
Madson was the primary sound crafter for the short-lived Yoni Wolf and Doseone project cLOUDDEAD, a co-founder of Anticon, and producer for the likes of Serengeti, Sole and Sage Francis, yet his solo career is where his creativity has truly shone, stretching his lo-fi beatsmithing across various instrumental hip-hop, indie pop and ambient styles.
On Mirrors, his first album for the Notwist's Alien Transistor imprint, he sounds focused, even driven. As ever, his beats are imaginatively textured, with recognizable instrument timbres delivering funky, dramatic melodies awash in white noise, tape hiss, record pops, haunted fuzz and woozy distortion over sizzling boom-bap drums.
"Air Up" could have a touch of Edgard Varèse in there, early synthesis à la "Poème électronique." The distorted thunder bass drop of "Cookies" offsets the effervescence of its rising world music chimes. Yet, it was intended for vinyl; its sides flow flawlessly from start to finish, psychedelic daydreams on a slab of wax meant to be enjoyed as a dedicated meditation rather than algorithmic playlist fodder.
The evocative piano, which is softened in "Mirrors I," is presented with flair in "Mirrors II," just one of the aural threads that holds the whole album together. As a singular trip, Mirrors is experimental hip-hop at its very best. (Alien Transistor)