SETH Chick on the Moon
At this point in his young career, it's probably not worth trying to categorize New York City's Gobby; after all, his output to date has exuded such an array of influences that this is a near-impossible challenge. His tracks seem to be carved out of pop-culture detritus, and the results are a deranged mulch. The only guarantee so far has been that Gobby will present something on a scale that ranges from beguiling to batshit crazy. File SETH, his project with vocalist James K (for clarity's sake, we should not that James K is a female, Jamie Krasner, who has previously worked with Physical Therapy), under beguiling. Chick on the Moon, SETH's debut mini-LP, is potentially Gobby's most accessible moment, but that doesn't exempt it from its producer's manic tendencies.
Opener "Dont Open Your Make" is an almost carnivalesque trip-hop piece, and it makes the kind of uncannily '90s impression that ADR's Chunky Monkey album did earlier in the year. Thankfully, Chick on the Moon is nowhere near as steeped in pastiche as that album, nor is it as disparate. James K's vocal drowse has a lot to do with this, as her calming presence works to cohere Gobby's tangents. When she is not on a track, the producer's fiendish aggressiveness comes to the fore, as on the Terminator chug of "Haha," which feels inherently out of place. On other tracks, the pair does a kind of battle. "Precipii Oowee" is underlined with the kind of decaying, hauntological TV loop a producer like Nochexxx might use; meanwhile, James K's soaring wail is redolent of some of Glasser's more widescreen moments, but it's intermittently distorted, as though she's dissolving into the beat. On "Cat in the Limo," uneven compression, midrange wobble, and halted drums sit in contrast to soft vocals, but again, there's a lopsided sort of unity at play. These moments only accentuate the times when the two actually work in unison. "Fish Oil" is the record's honestly beautiful centerpiece, its backwards-guitar-laden chipmunk folk coming across like the last warm days of autumn; it's marked by totally pastoral, sun-dappled, Indian-summer sentimentality in frayed yellow and orange, with James K sounding sweetly resigned on top. The song is so good that it even pops up again in a kind of redux on the closing medley "Puunani Wreck." Gobby's psychotic beatmaking is plenty interesting on its own, but it turns out he actually improves when paired with a vocalist.
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