Like many electronic artists, Randolph Chabot, AKA Deastro, is in love with buzz. Whether that sound appeals to the listener is almost beside the point. Chabot is in the business of creating worlds, insular and laptop driven as they may be. These "space symphonies" have no rules, no compositional structure to follow, only the internal logic of Deastro, self-contained and unhampered by external input. Unlike 2009's more song oriented Moondagger
, Mind Altar EP
follows the current trend of abstraction in electronic music. Chabot's new toy is that old standby, reverb. There are unholy slabs of it, that cover almost every note played. In some instances, like the arpeggiated bounce of the title track and the four on the floor romanticism of "Mowgli the Lynx," it becomes an aural mood enhancer. But more frequently, like in the specifically titled, but musically vague "The Concept of Land Ownership" and the indecipherable "Divali," the effect just removes all traces of purpose.
Far be it from me to perpetuate the old lo-fi recordings vs shiny, new product battle. But if you're going to change your sound drastically and you don't want to be accused of jumping on the current washed-out, glo-fi bandwagon, you'd better have the tunes, or an unimpeachable vibe to back it up. Toro Y Moi's masterful debut, Causers of This
, released at the beginning of this year, is a good example of music that has both. To a lesser extent, Caribou's Swim
covers similar terrain. All are synth-driven, performed by singers/DJ's with slight wisps of voices.
Part of Deastro's charm lay in his previous use of New Wave motifs. Propulsive, spiky beats, Casio loops, a real cassette aesthetic. You get a taste of that on this EP's bonus tracks, the excellent rocker "Shield Whip," and the Cocteau-ish "Orange Swimmer." But these tunes, as well as the other extra, "Seven Fell From the Firmament," sound more like outtakes from Chabot's previous work than they do part of Mind Altar
. (By the way, if an EP has three bonus tracks, doesn't that make it...an LP?)
Obfuscation can be a beautiful thing, and on the surface is always cooler than complete clarity. But it has to be hearable. Chabot's output to date has been impressive and he has no shortage of ideas. After the electronic piano sequence that opens "Genesis Weapon," he states, "To all my friends I'll follow you until the end." An artist this committed to his territory is worth following, even if occasionally he strays down the wrong path.-dan siegler
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MP3: "Get Frostied" (Mind Altar EP)
Deastro on Myspace