From the opening seconds of 'Lowdown Brittle', the album's lead cut, the modus operandi of Philadelphia-based producer Someone Else is made abundantly clear. As digital interruptions and bursts of reverb erupt into the stereo field, a richly accented voice struggles to describe the process of constructing techno tracks from found sounds, but what follows is far removed from the organic constructions of Matthew Herbert or the doe-eyed downbeat of Ezekiel Honig that one may expect. Instead, O'Neal launches head first into a clattering barn-burner of a track: a straight ahead minimal funk production bursting at the seams with fractured samples of human speech and ruptured percussion patterns. At times resembling a warmer, less precise re-imagining of the Minus sound, 'Pen Caps & Colored Pencils' is a marvelously textured album, showcasing O'Neal's fresh approach to the minimal techno format.
Downplaying the need for basslines and melody, O'Neal's tracks are built from the ground up: a solid backbone of a beat soldiers along for a track's duration, cycling through a select handful of patterns as more and more samples and sounds find their way into the mix. Sometimes things come loose and peel away into dramatic flares of sound, only to quickly be re-centered around the rhythm.
While the formula may become a tad repetitive over the course of the album, it more often than not adds an air of sexual perversity and humor to the proceedings: keeping the human heart beating deep within the confines of the machine. 'Pooty Call', for instance, is comprised only of a skeletal beat draped with a simple chord vamp, but by simply piling processed moans and post-coital sighs onto this basic framework, O'Neal manages to fashion something that sounds legitimately dirty and morally ambiguous. We're not talking a glitzy all-sexed-up-and-ready-for-the-runway sound a la Luomo here; this is some straight up dirty dirt grit. He plays the same card on several cuts, like the sultry 'Hedroom Eyes', where he injects a woman's coy invitation to vulnerability ("you can tell me just this once") into the mix for maximum late night effect. The rest of the record gleefully bounces along, promiscuously brushing up against genres and styles with little regard for its own safety: a thin haze of psychedelia hangs over the record, while an obvious admiration for Kraftwerk's mensch-machine sound and a dash of dub sneak in the back door.
O'Neal's eclectic approach and sample-heavy production may reserve this music for more adventurous dance floors, but any one of these twelve tracks could be lethal in the right hands. And considering that 'Pen Caps & Colored Pencils' is the debut full-length for both Someone Else and his Foundsound imprint, I'd say big things are to be expected from this camp in the future.
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Tracklist: Someone Else - Pen Caps & Colored Pencils1. Lowdown Brittle
2. Play it Kershaw
3. Pooty Call
4. Hedroom Eyes
5. Curly Mouth
6. Funky Fromage
7. Peaches and Steam
8. Elevator Muzak
9. Threadbare Snare
10. Mi Lapiz es Amarillo
11. Family Unties
12. Oh Sean
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