Tuesday, April 26, 2016

EVAN A. JAMES
“Falling Out with Number 1”
(Dirty Pillows)




 I know you remember the review I wrote for Evan A. James’s self-titled tape on Adhesive Sounds, because it was your introduction to the man’s masterful work. Thank you, thank you. He’s at it again with Falling Out with Number 1, twelve tracks of inventive and experimental jazz-tinged electronics, and kids, if you expected a sophomore slump, fuhgeddaboutit. James is as in tune with his compositional chops as a kickboxer’s feet are to his opponent’s face. That means Evan A. James is kicking the living crap out of all other genre wannabes. End awkward metaphor… now.

Still recalling Badalamenti at times, but also reaching into the Orange Milk Records roster for inspiration (e.g. label honcho Giant Claw), James reveals his restlessness throughout Falling Out, presenting here his tunes in bite-sized chunks that barely ever reach three minutes in length, yet better serve the album as a whole by their brevity. It’s easy to see this play out through the first few tracks, as “Bleakarcade” opens the tape with fidgety vaporwave before transitioning into the chamber synth of “Alch,” complete with processed vocal samples (there’s the Giant Claw comparison). Then “Tumble” manifests itself, all one and a half minutes of jazz bass and strings, totally jostling the listener out of any sort of pattern. This sort of stylistic dance keeps repeating over the full course of the tape.

It’s not a stretch to suggest that Falling Out with Number 1 is one of the most inventive listens you’ll encounter thus far in 2016, and here’s hoping that Evan A. James brings more of this A-game action to future releases, hopefully in the very near future. For now, go back to “Bridge, where human voice samples are matched with mournful strings for a powerful effect. Or “Transparentradiosong” or “Danse,” each equally emotive, for more down this same path. Or, heck, even “Fallingoutwithnumber1,” which ends the tape and flips the whole thing on its head by going in for the electronica kill – kickboxer style – complete with “pop chorus” … ish. See? I want to talk about every single tiny part of this tape – all of it is worth obsessing over.




--Ryan Masteller

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