BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
John Vanderslice has never bowed to the ordinary or expected. Whether perpetrating a complex copyright hoax to promote his early single “Bill Gates Must Die,” opting for political pontification so as to excise his demons on 2005’s Pixel Revolt, or ruminating on America’s overseas follies via Emerald City two years later, he’s found inspiration in even the most unlikely of circumstance. It would be easy, then, for Vanderslice to rely only on his storytelling and letting his lyrics speak for themselves.
Nevertheless, as owner and proprietor of his own Tiny Telephone recording studio, that’s below his means. A master sound sculptor, he makes music that can sound random and disjointed, as expressed through “Raw Wood,” “Damage Control” and “Harlequin Press,” three of the more striking entries from this unusual set of songs. He himself refers to this style as “sloppy hi-fi,” given its emphasis on ambient effects, the percolating pulse and designs that often appear deliberately blurred and sonically unfocused. Yet while some songs like “Gaslight” and “North Coast Rep” may seem out of sync, others, like “Song For Dana Lok” and “Song For David Berman,” momentarily coalesce. Ultimately, Dagger Beach isn’t the easiest listen – “bewildering” and “bizarre” are perhaps the better descriptions here – but for sheer daring and intrigue, Vanderslice finds fruition.
DOWNLOAD: “Song For Dana Lok,” “Raw Wood,” “Song For David Berman”