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Jess Rowland: Spambots

Glenn Astarita By

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San Francisco-based sound artist, synthesist and commissioned composer Jess Rowland assembles a freaky android-like aural fest via text-to-speech loops, cyclical narrations and perhaps modern era Beat poetry atop supercharged electronics and dissimilar tonalities. Running at LP length, Rowland and drummer Pete Stalsky don't overcook matters. Her overlapping narrations, sometimes built on short phrases and a mélange of effects ride above the drummer's staggered cadences. Yet the duo intersperses crunching distortion and electro-mechanical type sounds into the mix.

Rowland enacts a buoyant platform, and fuses ambient soundscapes, thunder and percussion into "Invisible." Moreover, she talks about dropping acid on the amusing "Hot Dog Acid pt. 1" also featuring narrative overlays, sax parts and keys augmented by her sardonic wit, as "Hot Dog Acid pt. 2" is about eating a hot dog while hallucinating. Here, she embeds a lounge music vibe with zany electronics treatments. On "Random Access Y," a programmatic pulse underscores fragmented diversions and a soprano sax that sounds as though it's way off in the distance. Indeed, Rowland employs a vast array of samples and all things electronic or digital as an abstract artist would use a brush and easel.

Many of these often speedily paced iterations feature recurring narratives, seemingly induced with computer software manipulations and a highly rhythmic platform. Think of a hyper maniacal Captain Beefheart for the Internet information age, spiced with reverberating themes and an undulating soundstage that is wacky, crazily entertaining and shrewdly enacted from start to finish. Thus, Rowland makes her case rather effectively during a judiciously meted out timeframe sans any overkill.

Track Listing: Capitalism Lobster; Whose Pockets; Spambots; Plastiglomerate; Invisibility; Hot Dog Acid (part 1); Hot Dog Acid (part 2); Random Access G; Return of the Spambots; Random Access X; Random Access Y; Random Access Z; Return of the Spambots (part 2).

Personnel: Jess Rowland: tonal instruments, electronics, programming; Pete Stalsky: drums.

Title: Spambots | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Edgetone Records

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