Genre: Electronic, Experimental
Label: Schoolmap Records
In an age where genres are invented on a whim and where mislabelling an artist in any sort of public forum is grounds for the thrashing of a lifetime, the tag “experimental” is thrown about willy-nilly. Is anything outside the norm to be labeled experimental? When is music weird enough to be experimental? And conversely, does experimental music have to be weird?
Andrew Pekler, however, is an artist who is indisputably experimental—that is to say, Entanglements in the Orthopedic Sensorium is an experiment more than a traditional album. Thirty-eight minutes (very neatly filling both sides of the limited LP) of clips and excerpts culled together from seemingly everywhere: beats, bursts of noise, recognizable instruments and entirely alien sounds all come together and, surprisingly, actually end up being something cohesive.
It begins innocuously enough with a section titled “Left Right Test” that lives up to its name before going through a series of accurately titled movements—“Excerpt from the Pre-Paid Piano” and “Rough Cut Strings Reversed” aren’t exceptionally deceiving monikers. These movements begin to blend together into something surprisingly songlike, something that can perhaps be loosely approximated as “ambient electronic,” but which treats that label as a point of reference rather than a definition; Pekler’s music here is well and truly an experiment that defies easy categorization.
Entanglements really hits its stride as the movements become more vaguely named: the rough grouping of “Hazy Timbre - Severe Glitter Uplift - Vacuum-packed Clusters - Waltz For Minor Planet” lives up to the formless sort of mental image that the laundry-list title conjures, and the piece’s latter half - “Korla Loop - Meet The Mice - Backmasking In Exotica” is a tumbling mess of strings over a plodding beat that feels unexpectedly well-composed considering the circumstances of the record.
Equal parts a mosaic and a melting pot of different ideas, Entanglements is a refreshing example of an experiment that feels entirely consistent instead of self-indulgent. This isn’t an experiment to test the limits and preconceptions of the audience, but one that actually makes a successful effort to be enjoyable. It is indeed experimental in the truest sense of the word, but it is a work that doesn’t forget that it is indeed music, something that too many experimental musicians seem to overlook.