Moon B – Lifeworld
If 2014 has been the year of the tape, then 1080p has been one of the format’s most prominent and exciting labels. While there are now plenty of labels concentrating on the humble tape, the Vancouver imprint just seem to do it better than most. Their thirty releases to date contain some of the most intriguing committed to magnetic tape, happily issuing a weird, wonderful and downright odd array of out-there ambience, jacking acid house, psychedelic-tinged techno, drone and experimental electronica. For the most part, these have come from new, little known or thrillingly obscure producers – the likes of hometown hero Lnrdcroy, Via App, and the brilliantly named Perfume Advert. It’s DIY music culture at its most adventurous and rewarding.
Joining the cast here is Los Angeles artist Wes Gray aka People’s Potential Unlimited and Going Good regular Moon B. Gray is undoubtedly a neat fit for 1080p; not only has he previously released an eccentric, hard-to-pigeonhole tape (2013’s Off for PPU), but he’s also obsessed with the kind of cheap, dusty and cheap old hardware that’s been the backbone of many of the label’s releases. Throw in his passion for sampling from obscure records found in thrift stores and dollar bins, and you’ve got an artist who fits the 1080p remit like a well-worn glove.
There’s also the small matter of Gray’s style. While he’s scored some success delivering analogue deep house for Going Good, the majority of his releases have focused on a particularly fuzzy, grit-laden take on boogie revivalism. Listen to his untitled debut set for PPU, for example, and you’d think you were listening to a bunch of rediscovered demos from 1983, found in some rusty cans of quarter-inch tape in an abandoned D.C. loft. It all felt quite suited to the cassette format.
Lifeworld, his 1080p debut, contains some of this woozy g-funk scuzziness and lo-fi electrofunk, but it’s merely a small part of the story. Styled like a good, old-fashioned mix-tape, Lifeworld is akin to a kaleidoscopic trawl through Gray’s influences and inspirations, with the odd stop for ice cream and magic mushroom tea on the way. Without spoiling what unfolds, you can expect to hear sax-laden, sampleadelic chuggers, exotic Bollywood-inspired curios, chopped-and-screwed interludes, bizarre pitched-down Italo, and more before Lifeworld is up. There are no track titles, of course, or helpful idents to make sense of it all.
Yet in many ways this actually works to Lifeworld’s benefit. It feels a little like listening to a fabulously eccentric late night radio mix, with no inane mic chatter to get in the way. Furthermore, for all its distortion and left-on-the-shelf dustiness, it’s a deliciously vibrant set, painted in bold colours. They might be cheap and lo-fi, but the synthesizer sounds are awash with colour and soul, the beats shuffle seductively, and the hand-picked samples – most from rather strange sources, as you’d expect – add much to Gray’s wonderfully puzzling productions.
A. Lifeworld Part 1
B. Lifeworld Part 2