CARL STONE – Baroo

Unseen Worlds

The last few years have given us a chance to gather a sizable chunk of Carl Stone’s older material. A pair of archival releases on this very label reminded us of the reasons for our immediate falling in love with Mom’s way back in 1992. Now it’s time to celebrate, and perhaps dance to the tune of a completely new record.

Well, not exactly. Baroo’s tracklist comprises two opuses from 2011, the remaining ones having been composed in 2018. It doesn’t matter anyway; Stone’s researching between the cracks of an intercontinental aesthetic consciousness yields laudable results whatever the age of his sounds. If anything, we could jokingly describe this item as a rhythmically charged “mutant pop” album; however, its interlocking patterns and splintered harmonic elements betray compositional subtleties that might be missed by the casual listener’s (lack of) focus. And yet, the composer himself states his hope for the audience to have fun with this music. Mission accomplished, needless to say: the title track – an entrancing salsa kaleidoscope that would stimulate Steve Reich’s jealousy – is alone worth the price of admission.

Still, this writer’s favorite is the subsequent “Xé May”. It is entirely performed on the Electron Octatrack, a small-sized sampling device that can do miracles in the right hands. A persistent “panther walk” bass vamp is a hook for the mind to coordinate its components; from there on, everything but the proverbial kitchen sink is thrown in by Stone. Pseudo-industrial lo-fi-ness, synthetic substrata, looped-and-bent voices halfway through a misshapen invocation and a muezzin’s Japanese mistress trapped inside a washing machine. These apparently absurd cohabitations, plus the substances distilled from their gradual modification, trigger sensational repercussions.

Baroo is a sunray piercing the black clouds and the cold fog to warm human plants whose flourishing is delayed. When you’re down and troubled – but don’t need a helping hand – it will work wonders, improving the mood much better than any antidepressant. Keep it close.

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