This record took us entirely out of our safe and hate zones, for which we are exceedingly greatful.
We don’t know glitch hop or lo fi beats idm electronic subgenres et al, so unfortunately we’re not really educated enough to adequately and accurately rate and put this record in any context whatsoever that we’d be satisfied with.
However, what we do know is what we hear, we like. We respect. We are intrigued by.
(above; an uninformative picture of the artist that raises as many questions that you know no answers will be given to as the befuddling nature of the music itself)
Apostrophe Beats is the brain child of omnipresent Albany scenester Dan Paoletti. A mover and a shaker behind countless shows, projects, and collaborations, Dan’s a guy you probably know if you’re involved and you’re cool. We don’t.
(That was a joke but also completely true.)
The album in question contains 21 tracks that typically run for around 2 and a half minutes, but there are plenty of sub minute and one nearly 5 minute tracks just to keep you on your toes. It’s like it’s a feeling. Not a song, not separate tracks; an entire lasting mood. Ostensibly about life for Mr. Paoletti in Upstate New York, we can certainly relate here. There’s something about everything here that includes everything you might think of; from Lark Street where if you close your eyes you can almost pretend you’re in the East Village, to North Troy where danger lurks around but when you’re there on a sunny day, you’re a bit high, it feels like an experience you just really want to have somehow. Well, those and to the sprawling suburbs of Levittown like communities that may be conservative, gun loving, pickup truck driving classic rock enthusiasts — they’re kind of unrepresented on this trek of Upstate New York. How unfortunate.
The genre is unknown to us but we did a bit of research. For starters, we think the idea of dance music that you can’t dance to is fucking brilliant. And the constant tempo switches, the confusing slurry vocals that sometimes figure in, and the chill out organs and horn parts (?) that constantly pop in and out make you feel like you’re on even more drugs than the instrumentals do to start with. There’s no guidemap here, no straight raving, no glow sticks, no 4/4 or headbanging. Just pure experimental electronic music like nothing we’ve heard.
Some somewhat similar stuff I’ve familiar with includes ambient house, trip hop (more Tricky than Portishead), and early 90s hip hop like Tribe Called Quest and De la Soul might figure in to the paradigm within which we hear this. But we don’t get the theory from any reference points of the paradigm. We are without an oar here to paddle through the overall melange of sounds that comes out. Some influences definitely show up. You can feel the 90s hip hop, some slow jams, some ‘chill out’ music for lack of a better term (and that is a terrible term). But the sounds, the format, are all unexpected and feel almost unmoored.
In contrast to true ‘chill-out’ records we’ve played like say the good Orb stuff (yes there was good Orb stuff), when we hear pretty much any of the tracks on Upstate Daydream we feel both mellow and on top of a mountain of repressed anxiety. And this feels like an adequate reference point, given the spiked conversations on some of the tracks like ‘The Pomegranate (Breather)’ that are characterized by droll english accents. But the feeling isn’t one of intentional enjoyment or calmness. There’s always that feeling in the background that we’ve smoked too much pot or done too many other drugs that we don’t know the names of. We’re good for now, but…
And that’s just one of the brilliant parts of this album that set it apart from anything else we’ve heard. It sets such an uncompromising, unusual mood that once you’re in you can’t get out of until you stop listening (and even sometime after that). It also feels like a solo project that was born of collaboration and ideas from just about everywhere; the list of personnel in the liner notes is a road map to dozens of other musicians and groups from the area. The only one we recognize is the brilliantly talented yet woefully underknown Grace Annunziato (who often makes music under the alias of Lone Phone Booth), another project we’ve enjoyed so much we wrote about unsolicited recently
Incredibly original, entirely discordant and wonderfully experimental, Upstate Daydream defies expectations you didn’t even know you had and puts you in a mood you’ve never been in but know all too well. Somehow. There may be mountains of music like this somewhere out there for all we know, millions of dj’s at home spinning similar lo-fi beats interspersed with an enormous variety of always unexpected electronic instruments and samples, but we’ve certainly never heard anything like it (ok we should probably stop repeating ourselves now.. now… repeating. ourselves. NOW!). At one point you’re relaxing and sinking into the easy chair, suddenly you find you’ve gone too far and you’re underwater and not breathing so well, then just as suddenly you’re looking at the defribillators that just brought you screaming back to life and reality. But it’s ok, you’re still pretty doped up from the trauma and the morhpine. And so you start sinking again…
We’ve never heard anything quite like this (I thought you were gonna stop repeating that!!! STOP IT!!!). But we imagine and hope very much that we will again. There is an intriguing, in depth, entirely original and unexpected underground in the Capital District, and this is definitely a part of it. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.
-W. A. Wright