THE PRESENT World I See (Loaf)
You know how sometimes when artistes get into really extreme territories with their art of expression and end up getting lost in their own world so much that they forget the very audience that they sought to communicate with?
That is perhaps one of the dangers that musicians such as Rusty Santos has to risk every single time he picks up an instrument or sits on the producer’s throne (For the uninitiated, Rusty Santos is a producer of works such as Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, and Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs, which has brought him high acclaim).
His latest project, The Present, with long time friend and fellow musician Jesse Lee, and the enigmatic Mina, has seen the release of its debut album, the improvisational World I See, which is described as a piece that “tramples on musical boundaries and preconceptions, whilst leaving an album that is still capable of relating musically and emotionally to a wide audience”.
Now, if you think Santo’s prior works were far out, one would be forgiven to suspect he is holding back his punches. World I See is unexpected and unpredictable: six tracks of sonic possibilities stretched out a million light years, peppered with a lots of delays and dribbles and drums that sound almost shamanic in vibe. Perhaps the closest relation is his experimental works on “Eternity Spans”, and even then I would say I am forcing the comparison.
The first track, Heavens on Ice, speaks heavily about what is to come. A 13-and-a-half minute sonic journey laced with lush atmospherics that transcends between urban, to electro-tribal ish, to sci fi, and to a more familiar indie-tinged experimental (which is what Santos is known for), it is perhaps my personal favourite track in the album. Other noteworthy tracks include Love Melody, a lucid, bizarrely poignant piano lead track, and “Symbols on High”, another atmospheric ambience to indie tinged piece, quite similar to Heavens on Ice albeit less complex in its build up. In fact, I am honestly fighting myself from saying that ALL of them are as noteworthy.
That being said, fair warning to say that this record is NOT an easy listen. One has to approach it by taking in the improvisational context of its production. That approach will help to appreciate the album better, almost like putting on 3D glasses. It is through those “lens” that the music becomes surprisingly ear candy even!
I will not go so far to say that the album is ground breaking. Groundbreakers usually find immediate success despite its unconventionality. World I See fails to achieve that palatable serving status. But if you are the type who enjoys the exotics, then “World I See” can perhaps be very fulfilling consumption.
Still not convinced? Check out The Present at their Myspace.
(Armen Rizal Rahman)