Dusted Reviews

Yellotone - Tar File Junction

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Yellotone

Album: Tar File Junction

Label: Ai

Review date: Jan. 27, 2005

To the average American record buyer, British electronic music exists in the form of Warp Records, with journeyman labels of all sizes like FatCat, Accidental, Seed, Vertical Form and Leaf quietly stepping between its footprints. To be sure, it takes quite a lot for the stateside community to recognize talented work within electronic-based media. Ai Records, based in London, has proved to be one of those labels whose output over the last few years has been underappreciated, but perhaps it’s time for the American scene to begin to take notice.

Simon Harding’s work for the label has been impressive. Contributing several tracks to label compilations and releasing an EP, last year’s Geen Mayo, has primed him for the difficult jump to recording a full-length. The first track on Tar File Junction, whose mouthful title is “Gailforceporterloucarpenter,” gives little indication how varied an approach he takes to his electronically-manipulated music, relaxing into a captivating but purely electronic mode of production. It’s one of the album’s best tracks, without a doubt, but reveals only one face of a producer who admitted in his Listed feature for Dusted to listening to Pet Sounds alongside Guided by Voices, Steve Reich and Charlie Mingus. A multi-instrumentalist by trade, Harding’s sound becomes more varied track by track as he begins to explore jazz, hip-hop, progressive and post-rock directions on an assortment of well-chosen instruments (piano, bass, live drums, harmonica, and turntables) patched together with seamless electronic production.

Harding’s standard method is to establish a basic arrangement consisting of interlocking elements, and then fade individual instruments in and out to allow doodling on a specific weapon of choice, often dissonant piano or turntables. Each piece of harmony grows and recedes, highlighting various aspects of the married and often conflicting experiments that are going on at any given moment. Often this results in stock similarities over the course of several tracks, linked by style instead of set repetition. Harding’s method remains rocksteady, so even his dogged pioneering mentality can’t always accommodate the wish to constantly reinvent itself.

With a taste so noticeably eclectic and a generous desire to concoct an impossible fusion of musics, it may be that Harding’s only weakness as a producer is that he can’t edit himself. Thus, instead of working within set methods and exploring their limitations, he becomes hindered by variation. “Witterin” ends with aggressive fading from right to left to achieve a kind of glissando effect between speakers. On top of the thick coating of textures, it’s too much. Even the instrumental arrangements choke on themselves in places, such as the bridge vamp of “Power Nap,” though just when Harding finds himself in over his head, he’s able to pull through to another idea. A short attention span coupled with a bottomless bag of tricks can cancel out carelessness; perfection, however, would require knowing when to hold back.

When it all comes together in moments for Yellotone, however, Harding finds himself without any strict peers. The minimalist house piece “Cool Blue Albion” softly pounds through Harding’s rigorous exercises to perfection, making you believe, if just for the track’s duration, that he just might be capable of anything.

By Joel Calahan

Read More

View all articles by Joel Calahan

Find out more about Ai

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.