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Leprechaun Catering - Kumquats, Lychees

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Artist: Leprechaun Catering

Album: Kumquats, Lychees

Label: Ehse

Review date: Nov. 2, 2005

I’ve got no idea what actual leprechauns might bring to a dinner were they to do the catering (purple horseshoes, perhaps?), but on Kumquats, Lychees Tom Boram and Jason Willett provide a healthy serving of exotic fruits, both sweet and sour, and supply the party music as well. The Baltimorean duo fiddle with electronics to create cartoonish improvisations that are equal parts retro-futurist exotica and unhinged, noisy tomfuckery. Willett’s past work with groups like the Dramatics may offer some perspective on Leprechaun Catering’s technicolor tongue-twisters, which also contain fragments of such diverse vocabularies as those of Dick Hyman’s Moog variations, the genre-hopping (and often humorous) improvisation of the ICP Orchestra, and the miniature sounds of some of IDM’s most fractured beatsmiths.

Kumquats, Lychees could easily be the musical output of a children’s story’s magic machine, those looming collections of bellows, gears, cogs, and other moving components, like Willy Wonka’s gobstopper machine in Mel Stuart’s original filmic adaptation of the classic book. Leprechaun Catering employ springy, off-kilter rhythms, and a crowded cacophony of electronic doodads and fluorescent squiggles. Beats are present, but the duo isn’t too reliant on them, often the rhythm of a track finds itself eclipsed by the sounds of an 8-bit video game in the garbage disposal. Critics may find it too cute or overly irreverent, but there’s a mad reasoning behind Kumquats, Lychees, and it’s definitely not simply mindless goofiness. The “stop-motion animation of a Martian dance party done in MS Paint” imagery comes all to easily when listening to Leprechaun Catering, and the LP is fun, to be sure. But to categorize it as only that could obscure the soundplay herein, especially with respect to the layering in which Willett and Boram engage.

The LP may not end up on many best-of lists at the end of 2005, or inspire a bevy of high-minded critical interpretation, but one has to hand it to Leprechaun Catering for making it all sound so easy. Place this platter aside your run-of-the-mill goofball noise/improv chicanery, though, and what these two have to offer should become more evident. They embrace what can easily be a rather flimsy musical concept, usually staying on the right side of the thin line between intelligently silly fun and indistinguishably wacky noodling, and execute all the while with verve and good grace.

By Adam Strohm

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