|After a hiatus in a sequence going back to 2003 on Neo Ouija (Pushing Air), Merck (Trying To Remember), and more recent Ghostly output, Benjamin Wynn's new Deru doings have got more daring. He's been doing the rounds for some years now, with a blend of electronica and hip-hop slanted beats, which latter is what gets him into Mush-y zones. No audio-slouch he, having been through Cal Arts' Music Technology program, absorbing not only the techie side - synthesis, music theory, and composition, but also rubbing musicological shoulders with Balinese gamelan and African drumming. It's a combination that informs his forms, as analogue synth gauze unravels across a satisfying array of thump, thwack and shimmy enlivened with a combination of sonic nervous energy and enquiring mind. Wynn deploys a rhythm-enhanced sound design replete with off-kilter timbrality and kinetics. Of this latest, he says: "I wanted to make a record that was more in your face. Something that said what it wanted to say in a really clear and bold way. I think my last record was more subtle, for this I wanted to use a bigger tool." And it's certainly larger here, fashioning hefty retoolings of stylistic tropes into new look shapes.|
"I Would Like" sets the tone with a statement of slightly wonky intent, a vinyl-crackling backdrop against which a pitched-shifted French vocal lament is slathered into a haze, and lathered up into a squidged choral. It becomes clear that this oddment is actually a thematic gambit when a reverberant sped-up derivative of the refrain is given a second run-out ("I Want") as a passenger in a mean hip-hop vehicle. Variations on which urbane urban beat-derived theme follow - whether tough and scuffed funk-stuff (try "Peanut Butter & Patience") or light and dark lounge-like fare (say, "Hello"). "Basically, Fuck You" may signal an agry young man, but it's all mouth and, instead of trousers, a woozy mesh of shifting timbres spun into a machine funk base. "Walk" is perhaps the best exponent of Wynn's brooding winsomeness, breakbeats shuffling over an insistent one-note bass throb, festooned with a warp and weft of shifting textures and noir-ish thematics. "Fadeaway" gets more ambitious with Glass-like woodwinds consorting over a deliberate downtempo lope. "Days, Then..." is another of Deru's (mood) swinging Rhodes-ian funk-ups that ends in a kind of bitter-sweet. "What Happens When You Ask" is little more than a sound design sketch in which a field recording of a voice is variously tweaked, then laid bare. "Goodbye" is similarly elliptical, leaving the album with a somewhat evacuated coda. Wynn-some, lose some.
So, in sum, as Deru takes care with the audio-ware of the tonal and timbral, and more depth and weight comes through the gate with the years' arrears, you'll enthuse as Deru's muse fuses the pretty of a ditty with a mean skein, the airy with the scary, and the incendiary. And if you're a gent with a bent for a moon in June, or a Billie Jo Schmoe with a toe to tap to the snare snap, you might say Say Goodbye to Useless is a Wynn win situation. - Igloo