WM JOHNSON “Crawl” (Holy Page Records)

Modular synth records, from the bone-shattering brutality of Total Life to the cerebral meanderings of Matt Carlson, can sometimes start to sound very much alike after digging deep into the Bandcamp offerings. Some can capture your attention immediately, like Total Life’s amazing set at Debacle Fest 2013, while others can help pass the time at work. For the latter, it’s enjoyable, you never stop the music, but when it’s over you can’t quite recall what stuck out about that one compared to the other finds of the day. Artists within the field can get stuck in the homogenous sounds and only appeal to the heads, while casual listeners (i.e. me) just brush it aside. But there are some that just stick with you, and thankfully I’m here to talk about one of those kinds of releases.

When Crawl, a new tape from Oberlin based composer William Johnson, started playing on my speakers, I thought that it might fit in with the latter group, but oh my was I wrong! I’ll skip ahead and describe the B-side, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Johnson really baits you when the side starts out, with a fuzzed out synth that makes you think, Oh, so now it’s gonna be like this, huh? Just as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, all hell breaks loose. Seriously, a wind storm of sound blows you aside and keeps you has you hooked the whole way. Not to say that the A-side is lacking, but it’s hard to top that last half. I’ve been chasing the high of that previously mentioned Total Life show, which left me in equal parts shock and awe, and now I finally feel like I’ve achieved a similar experience.


-- Jason Cabaniss