Dusted Reviews

Nautical Almanac - Rooting for the Microbes

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Nautical Almanac

Album: Rooting for the Microbes

Label: Load

Review date: Aug. 9, 2004

Spliced from the same mutant gene pool as soundscrape engineers Wolf Eyes and even sharing the occasional member in James "Twig" Harper, Nautical Almanac traffic a weirder psychedelic extremity via even more abstract gadgets. Recently transplanted from the midwest to Baltimore, Harper and partner Carly Ptak have set up their own private alternate dimension in the city where Poe died. From their base at the self-named Tarantula Hill, the pair helms the HereSee record label, hosts gigs by fellow traveling fuzzniks and, of course, commits their own cracked frequencies to tape. Rooting for the Microbes (Load) is the latest report on the duo’s DIY voltage tests.

As noted on the record’s sleeve, Harper and Ptak eschew both computers and electricity itself in music generation. Instead they fiddle with a homemade matrix of peeled circuits and custom alloys. Rather than playing their instruments, Nautical Almanac inhabits them. Each of the disc’s 13 pieces comes titled with clear depictions attesting to the group’s visceral MO: “Absorbing and Distorting," “Cross Dementia," “1 Million Synapses Frying.” Clearly toying with both their own wiring and the listener’s, Harper and Ptak ease the flow of frittered zags and fizzling bolts only with brief silences. The steady spew of gnarled palimpsests pauses just long enough to allow more sonic bile to build-up.

They may tinker strictly with machines, but aside from the hardware Nautical Almanac has far more in common with the beardos of the free-folk movement than the anti-music industrialists of the noise scene. Beneath the tinnitus tones, broken pitch bursts and malfunctioning oscillator currents, it's the same freeform flux as The Sunburned Hand of the Man or even the Sun City Girls. Only it’s been corroded beyond recognition. The sinewy guitar lines and loose percussive rattle of the genre is more or less recalled in Harper and Ptak's suppurated toxic blotches.

Alas, not every lysergic spasm merits equal attention and in the end much of Rooting for the Microbes ends up rote avant histrionics. The antibodies may get quite a workout, but eventually Nautical Almanac’s home-grown strains of audio bacteria destroy only themselves.

By Bernardo Rondeau

Read More

View all articles by Bernardo Rondeau

Find out more about Load

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.