Marie Davidson (s/t EP)–reissued June 18, 2013
Formats: cassette US$8 or more, digital US$4.99 or more

Untitled by Good Stuff House–reissued July 23, 2013
Formats: LP US$19 or more, cassette US$8 or more, digital US$4.99 or more

Sensum and Clunch (s/t debut)–released August 27, 2013
Formats: cassette US$8 or more, digital US$4.99 or more

Holodeck Records. You may not have considered the name of the imprint before, but given their most recent batch of releases, it will be difficult to ignore it going forward. Introduced to the vocabulary by way of a 1987 Star Trek episode, a holodeck is a room programmed with replicated and virtual reality. No need for the silly headgear, as the broadcast is all around you. Look up, you’ll see sky. Look down, soil. Step too close to a honey badger and it will bite.

The name and catalog of one of Austin’s newest, grooviest labels invites the question: what would you do with a holodeck? Invite the French Canadian songstress over for coffee? Buy an ounce of the good stuff and listen to some vintage Pink Floyd? Or dig further into the clay of your subconscious with, say, some random bits of audiovisual and tactile signal? This hill country collective makes the case that–if you had your own holodeck–you would do a little bit of everything.

Their Exhibit A is the reissue of Marie Davidson’s eponymous EP, self-released in digital format last December. Davidson (Les Momies de Palerme, Hotel Monochrome) tenders a fizzy synthpop throwback with inching tempos, grinding diastolic rhythms, analog ricochets, iGeisha vocal temptions, unabashed drum machinery and some spoken word. Exhibit B is the reissue of Untitled by Good Stuff House (Scott Tuma, Mike Weis and Zelienople’s Matt Christensen). First released by Time-Lag Records in CD-R format in 2006, Untitled is curiosity-driven psychedelia that burns with acoustic phosphorus. Tremolo-picking guitar drone and gently weeping six-string join in with bells, chimes, and the tik-tok of escapement mechanisms that are too large to comprehend. The most recent is the self-titled Sensum and Clunch debut. At least one reviewer needed to look up both words: sensum is an outmoded Latin-based abbreviation for sense datum; clunch is hardened clay used as a building material. It is a beguiling dichotomy for an artist’s name: the isolated and singular alongside the tangible, the inherently plural. The pre-construct and the post-construction. The composing ethic here tends much more toward the former term: dots of primary color against blank canvas. Stethoscope rhythms, sonar harmonies, dialed-in time signatures and reedy programming.

Between three highly disparate albums, 18 tracks and 103 minutes of material, the discussion of highlights is not a trivial thing. The opening track to Good Stuff House’s Untitled LP is a pretty wonderful day trip, a place where the six-sounds-between-three-guys ethic produces exactly the minimal clutter you expect from the itinerary. The clanging, kinetic arrival comes off as a passive invasion: barefoot contes in place of military occupiers. Mammal vocalizations, snake-in-the-piano squalls of sound, hippie percussion and traces of thickening agents make for a very promising first act. Davidson’s “Le lieu o? vous voulez vous render” (“The place to which you want to return”) twinkles with 1970s art synth, thumbtack percussion and train-station spoken word. It hardly develops at all past the 30-second mark; combined with the nostalgic title and deliciously anachronistic furnishings the message, of all things, is Be here now. The almost 15-minute analog opus “Black Train Jack” is the centerpiece of the Sensum and Clunch debut. Spanning the entire cassette Side B, “Jack” is a slinking and cautious display of power-cord purity. This track–as is the rest of the album–is so intangible as to defy transcription (the liner notes make a game effort in spite of the fact: “the onset of a psychic schism” seems as apt a description as any).

But perhaps its ambiguity brings any review back to the original point: this is a Holodeck. Make up your own narrative and step inside.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.