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3 April 2017

James Twig Harper ‎– 'Intuitive American Esoteric Vol. 2' ( American Tapes/Ecstatic Peace!/Gods Of Tundra/Heresee/Slowtoe)

Another multi-label collaboration (and you gotta hand it to Harper for his vision), this one contains far fewer liner notes - none at all, apart from a now-faded gold sticker on the cover - and is split into two side-long pieces, with no label on the LP and an etching on one side saying to play at any speed. I chose 33 because I was too lazy to lift my turntable's glass platter; I started with the etched side, which is almost entirely locked groves so it's particularly difficult to listen to. It's fun to watch my Rega Bias cartridge skid all over the place trying to grab onto something, though I worry if it's damaging, so I'm glad to play this now before upgrading to a new cart. I'm reminded, of course, of all those Brinkmann records I never listen to, which are also joys of physical groove mastering. There's a similar skittiness here, though the materials feel more analogue and the beats more like byproducts. I'm not sure how many grooves I missed while going through this so it's probably safe to say I heard 70% of this at best.  It's the other, 'normal' side of Intuitive American Esoteric vol. 2 which is the real doozy. Here, Harper goes through just about everything in his toolbox, and while it has a fairly tighter 'electronic' soundbase than vol. 1 (meaning: there are less obviously acoustic tones that aren't processed into something space-aged), it really moved through a lot of territory. And it's LONG - I wasn't timing but it felt like it went on for about a half-hour. There's parts that sound like they are underwater, parts that are out-and-out aggressive percussive noise, and parts that pull in eight different directions at once. There's so much motion here that it would be insane to try to follow all of the parts, and everything collages together as it's happening so it's a dense psychedelic journey, for sure. I think the sense of movement and composition here is more accomplished than volume 1, though the fidelity is not quite as high and the range of pitches and sound-hues starts to congeal about halfway through. That's not to say there isn't plenty of space here - Harper is not a 'wall of noise' artist - but it's busy even within the spaces, if that makes any sense. Volume 3 happened but I haven't heard it; the completist part of me wants to seek it out, however.

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