February 26, 2013

Chris Daly once smoked out of a potato that he steeped for several days in a glass of water.

When considering Vancouver beatsmiths Nick Wisdom and AstroLogical, is it more appropriate to classify them as solo artists on Jellyfish Recordings or as members of the stellar Potatohead People (whose Mellowtunes was one of the grooviest EPs of 2012)  What’s the difference, you might well ask yourself. It’s just words, right? That, sir, is anti-semantic, and we don’t play that shit ’round these parts. I believe.

Whether as alone as Mookie Blaylock-era Pear Jam or conjoined as Chang and Eng Bunker, the two can always be counted on to provide the best in laid back, bedroom beats. Looking to listen to head nodding gems? Search no further than the output from this duo. Theirs is the music of the perpetually stoned, and that equates to lifetime soundtrack for some of us.

Due to the vagaries of email communications, i’ve been unable to connect with their label PR flak, so I’m a little short on biographical material. However, I can pretty much assure you of the following. Neither have ever been in my kitchen. AstroLogical most likely does not have a star named after him. Nick Wisdom is almost definitely not the head of philosophy at Aix-Marseille University. I’m also willing to wager neither was involved in that whole Russian meteor fiasco. Of course, I could also be wrong about any/all of those things. There is no question whatsoever, however, that both are two of the funkiest Canucks you possibly haven’t heard of in the beat scene.

For the purposes of this dialogue, we’re going to talk about the two solo joints each released recently–Wisdom’s Big Shiny House EP and AstroLogical’s Truthseeker. Even a cursory listen of the two albums demonstrates a shared love of musty, dusty beats perfect for the hours after the after hours. They instantiate the sound of late night creeping into early morning. Static crackles, beats are in no rush to go anywhere, but they manage to transport the listener into blunted landscapes of glacial speeds.

Of the two, “Big Shiny House” has the more old school feel to it. Perhaps it’s as as simple as the samples. Maybe it’s some inexplicable vibe i can’t describe. Option three probably lies in the names of the artists themselves: Wisdom comes from learned experience, while AstroLogical speaks more to tomorrow’s future. BSH’s tracks include old world, “natural” tracks named “Pollenate” and “Raindrops;” Truthseeker, by contrast, is about “Soft Machines” and and “Passage.”

As befits a strong partnership, each artist makes the necessary appearance on the other’s album. AstroLogical guests on Wisdom’s excellent “Snowflakes,” and Nick returns the favor on Astro’s aforementioned “Soft Machines.” To accuse either of doing the heavy lifting would seemingly miss the point of such laid back tunes. Anything that sounds so effortless couldn’t have been hard work, right?

At the end of the day, if one were to throw all the tracks into a hat and expect the listener to say whose is whose would be a Herculean task for even the most accomplished beathead listener. More importantly still, what would be the point? Music like this has nothing to do with strain. To my ears, that’s the truth to be found in the big shiny house.

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