Dusted Reviews

Nathan McLaughlin - The Refrigerator is Emotional

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: Nathan McLaughlin

Album: The Refrigerator is Emotional

Label: Senufo Editions

Review date: Aug. 8, 2012

Music is not at the heart of what Nathan McLaughlin does --- and it is all the better for it. On the sleevenotes to his first full-length LP (after a string of cassette releases on Digitalis, Notice, Gift Tapes and other small imprints), he states that the daily tasks required to keep the community he lives in going take precedence. “Waking up just a bit earlier to be sure the furnace burns hot for breakfast,” he cites as an example, going on to suggest that he has to find the time and space for making music, slot it in when there’s a free moment: “At times altering sound feels like it has to wait but it is happening all the time simply waiting to be bottled up and used a bit later, perhaps this afternoon around 1pm.” So these “real sounds and real tasks” seep into the margins and emerge in surprising and illuminating ways.

This marginality can be heard poignantly in these nine untitled vignettes. His primary instrument is a reel-to-reel tape machine and a delay system of his own devising. His sound sources are secondary, if they matter at all. What matters is the reflection of the source. This is a music of shadows, fading images, impressions and memories. Everything is an echo of something else, physically, metaphorically, spiritually. (No wonder he named an earlier series of tapes Echolocation.)

What we hear are terse phrases of pulses, reedy droning figures and warbling half-melodies. Pockets of rhythmic clicking are submerged in sub-aquatic, dubbed-out environments. There are moments with clean, synth-like tones and other passages that are saturated with hiss and static. These pieces exist on multiple levels, with ghost patterns that hover in the background and swerve into the foreground. What we feel is a mood that is bright and inviting, almost friendly, but intensely concentrated.

There are two lessons to be learned from The Refrigerator is Emotional. The first is that music is an extravagance, something meant to be created when all the other work of life is done. The second is that it is precisely this marginal nature that gives the sounds their weight, their impact on creators and listeners alike.

By Matthew Wuethrich

Read More

View all articles by Matthew Wuethrich

Find out more about Senufo Editions

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.