Pedro: Pedro
Mush Records

Re-packaged for North American distribution, James Rutledge's Pedro debut and companion EP of Fear & Resilience remixes (by Prefuse 73, Four Tet, Danger Mouse, et al.) still sound as good as they did when previously issued by Manchester's Melodic Records. The 39-minute Pedro alternates between pastoral, folktronic settings dominated by piano and glockenspiel (“Intro,” “Dead Grass”) and acoustic guitars (“The Water Ran This Way Back and Forth”) and densely-layered excursions into sample-heavy, instrumental hip-hop (“Fear & Resilience,” “These Pixels Weave a Person”). Illustrative of the stylistically explorative character of Pedro's work, “123” opens with a drum solo of jazz origin before developing into a stuttering setting of harps and organs while, even better, “Seven Eights” segues from chopped stutter-funk to classical minimalism.

In Pedro's dramatic “Fear & Resilience” original, Prefuse-styled cellos see-saw and horns bray over a driving base of vinyl crackle and psychedelic haze. Though it doesn't stray drastically from Pedro's version, Scott Herren's remix demonstrates typical Prefuse mastery, with Herren even managing to insert a bleating lamb into the mix. Rocked by a grooving pulse of twanging guitars and phasing effects, Cherrystones' treatment ups the trip-hop ante while Rutledge himself elastically stretches his original into ever-wilder configurations. On the down side, Home Skillet's evisceration may be an interesting experiment but it's also one you won't likely revisit. Occupying half the set, Kieran Hebden's twenty-one minute Four Tet mix begins approachably enough before turning into a furious free-jazz meltdown whose squealing horns recall the interstellar explorations of Coltrane's final sessions; thankfully, the intensity subsides, making way for a slightly less harrowing idyll that dominates the tune's final eleven minutes. Interestingly, the more satisfying pieces appear first with Home Skillet and Four Tet dominating the disc's less accessible second half.

February 2006