Caural: Remembering Today

Having studied jazz guitar and improvisation (with Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan University), Indonesian Gamelan, Southeast Asian music, and experimental electronic music at NYU, Zachary Mastoon draws from a rich background for his Caural project. Those influences subtly surface amidst the blunted breaks and bleepy haze of Remembering Today, a collection of unreleased material recorded after 2002's Chocolate Industries full-length Stars On My Ceiling. Though his left-field hip-hop naturally aligns him with Prefuse 73, Daedelus, et al., Caural's material is distinguished not so much for being different from the styles of others but for its rich sound. Mastoon sweetens a sleepy synth-funk groove with a glockenspiel melody and a warm bass prod in “Entre Chien Et Loud,” for example, and is equally comfortable injecting jazz references into one song (“Bleached Platinum”) as he is Casio noises elsewhere (“They'll Make A Video Game Out of Killing People Like You”). And proving that material can be experimental without being off-putting, classical string pizzicati rubs shoulders with a smeary groove, bell accents, and underwater piano in “Auto Rickshaw.” The disc gravitates towards quieter territory with the leisurely lurch of “Suicide” and beatific dreaminess of “Mouth,” but the staccato hyperactivity of “Insect Headphones” abruptly re-adjusts the mood with its distinctive gamelan bell strikes and thrumming pulsations. While Remembering Today offers much to appreciate, perhaps its best moment arises with “Summer On Cassette” where a grooving stutter-strut pulse, piano sprinkles, and vocal snippets suggest a less fractured Prefuse.

June 2006