Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. The Strange Dreams of Paul White. This guy (not this guy) is pressing things so ridunkulously forward in this burgeoning wonky/aquacrunk/thunk/j dilla world view scene. With everybody from Flylo to Bullion getting more and lavish with their beat structure, crossrhythms, 4 against 3 against 7, 20 different timbres, etc. Paul White (like the great Dilla) knows how to keep it sly and simple. Most of his beats are straight boom clap and his best play off only one other element. His crate digging taste runs in much the same territory as his peers; sci-fi and horrorscapes, misremembered soul, funk, kungfu folk, but he also taps into less trod stock; spanish folk pickers ("Surfing of the Coast of Mexico" - also probably the oddest and least realized cut on here), what sounds like a middle eastern (is it indian?) car commercial paired with the swingle singers ("Alien Nature"), sadsack britpop ("One Eye Open" which comes out sounding a lot like a Gorrilaz cut). What's nice is that unlike Onra, Bullion, Mike Slott and company, Paul White's sketches don't come out sounding all the same, which might be the first time an album of a thousand sketches (this one has 21) doesn't end up boring the shit out of me after about 5 songs regardless of whether they all last less than 2 minutes (nothing here goes over 4, and most are less than 2). I don't know whether it's laziness on the part of these other producers for having their presets so locked up, or that they're striving soo hard to establish a recognizable voice that they develop a kind of automatism where they don't even notice they're just repeating the same behavior over and over again. There are some misses for sure (how could there not be with three albums worth of ideas?). "Sea Life" substitutes excessive vinyl crackle for anything resembling a musical idea, it really just doesn't say anything at all. "Cheese Special and a Draw" is a bit too kitschy with its use of a Michael McDonald copycat (a man who is truly incomparable), and needs some reverb on that accordion sample. Sadly this is the kind of track that might get licensed, or played out in the chill room at some engorged dumdum club in hollywood. "One Eye Open" could be a toss-off instrumental from a bad dirty south rapper trying to get edgy by including electric guitar (does this ever work for anybody except UGK and Outkast??).
But some of these tracks are just fucking gorgeous. For anybody who has ever toiled through the wee hours and understands what kind of hypnosis art can be, how this type of wakeful sleep can be supremely lucid but totally useless, check out the dull anthemic wheez of "Can't Sleep Make Music". "Sugar Free Airlines" is as limber as a linebacker doing ballet. "The Magic Tunetop" is the meanest robocrunk this side of Delta City. "Waiting For Time" is probably the best single on the record. It's got a matter-of-fact oriental bass thump (kinda reminds me of the Beatnuts), a luxurious wash of sleigh bells, and the easiest, smartest use of vocals of the record. If he wanted to go pop, Paul White could easily follow this track and push Caribou straight out of the marketplace. I'm not yet tired of these records, but I could've seen it happening sometime in the near future if it wasn't for Paul White. He's set the stage for some seriously interesting ventures. Now all that needs to be done is to take just one of his ideas and go fucking nuts. Here's two of my favorites.

Paul White - Sugar Free Airlines

Paul White - Can't Sleep Make Music


My Other Hand's a Claw said...

Hi Peter, thanks for this review, I'm glad you like the record. I was enjoying it until I saw the link to download the whole album for free! Please remove that straight away.

Posting a track to download is fine (though it's better if you ask first) but four tracks then the album is disrespectful to Paul and to our work.


Alex (One-Handed Music)
alex AT onehandedmusic DOT com

Peter said...

Done and done.