Once11: Smile Hunter
The Agriculture

Ignacio Platas stokes a rich dub broil on his second Once11full-length Smile Hunter. In keeping with the Agriculture's 'roof music' aesthetic, the lo-fi sound is Jamaica by way of Brooklyn, with bass resounding from the music's pulsating center. In truth, the album begins unassumingly, the opening trio of songs establishing the album's general laid-back style but not much else. Platas strips the material to its stark essence, with “Verifying People” and “When The Dance Is The Game, The Food Crisis Game” reduced to haunted nomads of minimal drum accents and rumbling bass lines. It's with the advent of “Blind Mice” that Once11's primarily downtempo style begins to fully distinguish itself, specifically when a vinegary string line slithers meanderingly over the song's loose cymbal splashes and oscillating bass accents. Platas smears such dense washes across “Scream And Whisper,” its faint African chants almost pass unnoticed; fragmented voices more determinedly pierce the smoky haze of “Before The Operation.” At once current and ancient, electric and acoustic, restless and relaxed, Platas's vibrant Once11 sound draws its sustenance from a plenitude of contradictory facets. Those with memories not entirely clouded over may recall Platas's tenure as a founding member of the ‘90s NY outfit We, a significant detail in that Once11's ambient-dub sound isn't wholly dissimilar from that group's so-called illbient style.

June 2006