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Curd Duca: Easy Listening

AAJ Staff By

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The idea is simple. You start with samples of old music, and records playing in locked grooves. On top of this Curd Duca adds simple keyboards and floating sounds, giving the old record a new stmosphere. The title is apt: these short pieces are meant for the background, and don’t require intense analysis. But I didn’t say it isn’t worth hearing: ambient sound with a little edge, it’s like “future” music of the ‘Fifties, nostalgia for a time that never came. And it’s a nice place to visit.

The samples are well chosen: I don’t recognize ant of these, and they stay in the background, so you don’t say “Hey, that’s from –“ like you do with rap samples. Scratchy record noise is heard on most of these (one is even called “Scratchy”), and it adds to the mood. “Bounty” opens with tropical drums, the scratches adding to the percussion. Curd drifts in liquid synth, bubbles of sound that slide over the drums. It reminds me of a Pink Floyd instrumental, and gently leads to the more active “Wilson”. A slightly edgy piano loop leads into synth effects (wah-wah sounds, a part that’s played backwards) and little bells dancing on the top.

A better mood is “Sin World”: on a tense 6/8 loop (reminds me of Burt Bacharach) a noodling electric piano slowly becomes a whistling sound, and we’re on a range in a spaghetti Western. This works, and the sample is the engine driving it. The synthesizer is bet used as a flavor; when it carries the track, as on “Magic Islands”, it tires quickly. Others go in between: “Taboo Bass Dr” opens with jazz bass and bongos – to which Curd adds spacey blips! It totally changes the mood – and the drums work in the new context. “Taboo Bass” is similar, with the whistling but that worked better on “Sin World”. It conveys loneliness well, the loop recalling footprints walking down a dark alley.

“Psychoswing” opens with a tough bass-and-guitar loop. It’s the naked city feel of “Sin World”, and when the whistling starts you think Curd’s repeating himself. But no – the sound turns to a flutelike breeze, and it wafts high as the gritty bass keeps walkin’. The same sound fails on “Toy Whistler”: here the loop is a bristly synth, and the lonesome cowboy seems out of place.

On “Winter Echo” he takes a harmonica and joins a lop with organ and lush piano, weaving simple beauty over the snowscape. (They later go crazy on echo effects, but it’s great while it stays simple.) “Scratchy” is more gentility, a very warm string track leading to subtle synth, enhancing the mood through chords and high squiggles. It’s a lullaby, and the synth, while obtrusive at times, is a cloud for you to lay your head.

“Previn/Rose” is presumably a David Rose string album, a swelling crescendo that, thanks to the loop, keeps on swelling. Curd adds the spacey notes heard on “Bounty”, which sound different in the tense background – calm before the storm. A second sample brings a song structure to the piece; the synth gets a marimba sound and later drops out, leaving the strings to themselves as they keep building, a moody end to a disc full of them.

Title: Easy Listening | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Plag Dich Nicht


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