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Co La: No No *

Album Notes

Reflecting his involvement in Baltimore's experimental club music scene, Co La's Matthew Papich brings a confrontational energy to No No, his most pointed set of tracks yet. As he combines his hometown's distinctive club music and his fascination with media overload, No No finds Papich's blend of electronics and found sound samples growing crisper and more fragmented; this trend started on Moody Coup, but here Papich hones his palette even further and uses it with the intensity of a musical Jackson Pollock. The way that sounds are spattered, sliced, and smeared across these tracks, it's fitting that so many of their titles are verbs. "Squeeze" juxtaposes alternately rubbery and prickly, vaguely Eastern-feeling percussion with punch-in-the-gut grunts, suggesting the soundtrack to a futuristic martial arts film; "Gush"'s breathy, detached vocals, trilling strings and woodwinds, and slammed rhythms are equally sophisticated and mischievous. While No No's more defined, dynamic textures strengthen Co La's ties to artists such as Herbert and especially Matmos, another Baltimore-based act pushing the boundaries of electronic music while keeping it rhythmic, the cartoony audacity of Papich's sonic collisions also call to mind Raymond Scott or even Rube Goldberg: the title track is a contraption that builds a melody out of a looped laugh and lets it run amok on a ping-ponging beat. These songs are under high tension and sometimes shatter underneath it, as on "Noon (Blue)," which shreds its source materials into a string of exhilarating and frustrating outbursts that capture sensory overload perfectly. "Suffering (Tuesday)" gives this approach more emotional weight, with bleary synths underpinning passing sirens and stammering vocals that express the difficulty of processing an unending stream of information. No No also shines when it moves toward the dancefloor in its own fractured way on the shimmying, sawing "Barricade" and "Crank," which adds some finely chopped dancehall to its Baltimore bounce. Though Papich sometimes captures the state of an overloaded attention span almost too well, No No's fragments of meaning add up to some of his most fully realized music. ~ Heather Phares


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