Dusted Reviews

Brad Bordine - Same

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: Brad Bordine

Album: Same

Label: Vitalist

Review date: Mar. 2, 2003

Electro-Acoustic Life Support

Brad Bordine saved my life.

Okay, okay, that's an exaggeration wrapped in hyperbole wrapped in a tall tale, but the man did save my sanity. First off, you have to understand that I scan government documents into a database for a living, and no matter how boring that sounds, I can assure it's about a hundred times worse. After listening to Kinda Kinks for the 10,000th time (rock music tends to clash with the soul-stealing hollowness of my work, distracting me, keeping me from actually working), I decided I needed a change. Same, by L.A. composer Brad Bordine, helped me through a particularly excruciating 3,000 page budget report with its surprising twists and sheer, hmmm, aliveness.

I've noticed a disturbing tendency among modern experimentalists (even those that claim to be adherents to minimalism) to clutter things up with too many ticks and pops, too many overlapping loops, just too much sometimes. Bordine never resorts to cheap Merzbow-esque shock tactics: his compositions, while still refreshingly unpredictable (more on that in a second), approach the fringes with a calm, almost gentle, patience. Same occupies a cozy place between crackling/"glitchcore" noise and ambient drone, not wading into the morass of clichés associated with either. While each track is noticeably different, a wholly distinct personality comes through.

What I liked most about Same (and what pulled me back from the brink) was the fact that I never knew where Bordine was going next. Just when you've gotten complacent, something dark and sinister creeps up behind the song you thought you knew and takes over. Oftentimes, those working in the avant-garde descend into the same kind of rote formalism against which they're reacting. It's hard to keep things interesting and unexpected, especially considering that those who would appreciate Bordine's work probably have a bad case of "been there…done that." His crescendos, while slowly paced, go either too far or not far enough, which always ends up absolutely dead-on. Bordine says about Same: "The music is some time, and some space." He's right about that: he wrangles time and wields space as much as he can, giving the proceedings an openness and avoiding listlessness.

"Flotsam," the opener, begins with gourd-like rattling, and though it takes a bit to get going, quickly accelerates its percussive outbursts into synaptic spurts. It always feels random, and hopefully, it was. A disquieting hum builds beneath it as the randomness fades away; the hum becomes a buzz, and then…it's gone! The buildup never reaches a "proper" payoff, but that's not a bad thing necessarily. In fact, as Joe Millionaire and Temptation Island fans know, payoff's are usually less exciting than the buildups (example #2: look how quickly the GYBE formula has staled – big payoff every time, big snoozes from old fans).

"Aphorism" is a tease, a gentle bob and weave of noise that feels like a natural continuation of Same's flow. "State," on the other hand, is something new: a pulsating cavalcade of chimes and drones. "February," which bears a slight resemblance to the Cure's Carnage Visors, features a slow bass and piano dirge that floats on a Doppler-effected machine-like layer placed carefully in the background. Probably the finest example of Bordine's use of space, this terse, hesitant beauty is punctuated with nice flourishes of crescendo. The closer, "Chicago," lulls you into submission before unleashing the fury of a thousand pianos eating each other, then nothing, then a ring of overdriven static.

All of this unfolded while I was clicking through document trees, converting .tifs into .pdfs and wrestling with the Fujitsu scanner. For once, my job wasn't boring. Something interesting was happening, albeit not directly connected to my work. Cheers to Brad Bordine, for teaching me how to love "Report of the State Auditor of Georgia, year ended June 30, 2002, personal services and travel expense compilation, units of the University System of Georgia and Georgia Military College, volume II"…if only for a little while.

Like I said, the guy saved my life.

By Lucas Jensen

Read More

View all articles by Lucas Jensen

Find out more about Vitalist

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.