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Geeez 'n' Gosh - Nobody Knows

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Artist: Geeez 'n' Gosh

Album: Nobody Knows

Label: Mille Plateaux

Review date: Jun. 4, 2002

With each subsequent listen to Nobody Knows, Geeez ‘n’ Gosh’s (aka Atom Heart) second full length disc, I can’t help but think of Moby, everyone’s favorite bald-headed “techno” magnate. After all, both artists set out with similar goals (soulful dance music), and at times utilize similar methods (sampling old blues songs and spirituals). But whereas Moby ends up anally raping the hard work, spirituality and suffering of other people, Geeez just makes good music that won’t annoy the shit out of you while drowning in its own inanity. I have to admit, I tried as hard as possible to stay away from anything labeled “micro-house” for a good while, based simply on the fact that since I hated house music, why would I necessarily like its glitched-out half-brother? The good thing, though, is that I was pretty wrong – stuff like this places the “dance” firmly back into “IDM”, and adds a much needed bit of levity to a bunch of guys who would otherwise just be tweaking around with laptops. Thus enters Geeez ‘n’ Gosh…

So what is Atom up to this time around? Shying away from the spaced out jazz funk, odd exotica, and standard electronic fare of projects like Flanger, Señor Coconut, and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t really think of, Atom is hitting you right in the soul (or, as the crackhead near my old apartment used to say “the soul of [my] Lower East Side black heart. It ain’t easy being sleazy.”). Sure, he’s tapped the mother lode of glitches, but the grooves he’s bit-mined are satisfying – neither too cold or ironically organic, just carefully placed clicks and cuts that resonate into tight dance numbers. The whole spiritual aspect comes into play with the samples, these taken from a nondescript set of what sound like early blues numbers or field recordings. But rather than go the Moby route and channel the samples into his own half-assed narratives, Geeez lets them speak on their own and supplies the backup, or the “amen” to the “testify”, if you will.

“We Call on Him” starts with an extended sample of what sounds like hymn, albeit slightly slowed down, while the beat works itself up around it. Taking “Jesus” as a talisman, he repeats the word while working into an intricate groove. Granted, combining these two elements into tracks might seem like a little too over the top, and yet it doesn’t really sound forced at all. “Pray” works on the same ideas as well, this time taking the title and looping it around a steadily rising house beat, with the melody peaking out from around the grooves every once in a while and the samples giving way to more heavily distorted vocals every now and again. “Mother Showed Me (The Way to Go)” is even better at using this formula, speeding up the beat and giving it a healthy kick, while more subtle electronics pulse away and build, with the sampled vocal hook joyfully being scattered throughout.

The unadulterated samples aren’t really the focus here, but rather what context they’re placed in. On tracks like “It’s No Secret (What God Can Do)”, Geeez spends most of the track programming a squelching house beat that ebbs and flows into more ambient textures before giving way to the vocals, only this time slowed down and deeply buried under the surface of the track. “Sing You Children” processes the hell out of the blues sample, focusing instead on the propulsive bass touches and incessantly clicking beat. With most of the album working both ends of the spectrum in terms of remaining true to the original sample or hacking it to pieces, the disc ends on a more upbeat note with “I’m Determined (Jesus Changed My Soul)”, this time flicking the speed of the vocals up a few notches, working this track’s electronics into an almost sped-up funk groove.

House music itself is based on a formula that relies on less deviance than almost any other musical style. You have the steady four-on-the-floor rhythm that rises to its inevitable climax, the usual diva vocals, and of course, the hi-hats (oh dear lord, the hi-hats…). While Nobody Knows (and indeed a lot of micro-house material) doesn’t stray at all from the guidelines, the nature of the sounds, and the self-referential kitschy nod the music seems to give off prevent the tunes from sounding hackneyed or campy. Instead, Geeez ‘n’ Gosh deliver a short but sweet little record of grooves, harmonies, and experimental electronics that will satisfy anyone’s desire for something danceable to wrap your head around. And, unlike Herman Melville’s aforementioned great-great twit of a nephew, I won’t have to get sick and tired of reading solipsistic articles about him in nearly every fucking magazine at the bookstore where I work.

By Michael Crumsho

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