November 15, 2012

Jonah Bromwich invented Sea Pop.

What if I were to tell you that Rainbow Dolphins was a good name for an album? Or at least, putting aside that it is possibly the silliest EP title of the current century, that Rainbow Dolphins is a fitting name one that actually describes the album’s sound. Like, you couldn’t begrudge Skrillex naming his album, Artless High Pitched Sound, that Suddenly Transitions into an Overwhelmingly Artless and Unpleasant Bass Rumble that has to be Sourced by Vibranium. Though you could and should begrudge the havoc it can wreak on your ear canals.

Okay, maybe the title of Montreal producer Thomas White’s, Rainbow Dolphins, isn’t that on-the-money. And yet, both rainbows (think Glaswegian color flashes a la HudMo/Rustie) and dolphins (think the warm-blooded, intelligent, aqua-mammal), make their presences seen and heard.

The rainbow is already a semi-musical term — not in the sense of the actual meteorological phenomenon, but in the sense of the cartoon rainbow. Hyperbolically colorful and various, with a sharp-edged, flat, hard surface. Those adjectives that describe White’s music.

Take “We All Hype,” a track that lasers about frenetically, lacing screwed up southern rap with a high-velocity, candy-colored backdrop. A meditative mid-section consisting of keys and ominous bell tones gives away to the vagaries of a drum machine and random gun shots. That cartoon intensity is also present in “Rhapsody,” which brings back a Paul Wall sample you didn’t know you missed (“I got the internet going nuts”) and then ramps things up with an exaggerated staccato drop and morphs into an assortment of pleasant, echoing synths.

It’s that sense of pleasant depth that White shares with Shlohmo, which provides the best point of comparison for the dolphins. I know that this seems like a stretch, but I just think it’s funny that, once you get over the absurd name (and I’ve been listening to this for a while now, so there was ample time), a lot of the qualities that I’d associate with dolphins are actually present here. They’re most obvious on the title track, in which leviathan wails and actual hydrophilic sound effects contribute to the feeling of watching a light show while floating in an aquarium take.

But White’s best trick is bringing the heavier dub of someone like Girl Unit, outpacing, with his blind energy, the more pleasantly detached Shlohmo. And though he doesn’t quite have the pop acumen of a Rustie, White’s debut endeavor will be highly enjoyable for those for whom most headphone-friendly electronic music is a bit dull.

Neither rainbow nor dolphin gives any credit to the Southern Rap that animates the mix, which leads me to believe that this EP should’ve been called Screwed-up Rapping Rainbow Dolphins. But that’s a really stupid name, I guess. You wouldn’t think that rainbows, purple rappers and dolphins would stew together nicely — at least not without the help of a chemical that would have made it into one of the early footnotes of Infinite Jest.

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