Pedro: You, Me & Everyone

James Rutledge grabs the brass ring—the brass Four Tet ring, that is—on his latest Pedro collection You, Me & Everyone. The new material is noticeable more extroverted and ambitious than the material Melodic Records issued a few years ago. Rutledge draws upon multiple genres—rock (classic and indie), free jazz, psychedelia, African, hip-hop, electronica—for the album's eclectic tone, and the framing pieces “Intro (Asleep)” and “Outro (Awake)” indicate that the album should be broached as the transcription of an unnamed protagonist's dream state, and perhaps helps account for the album's mercurial and impressionistic character. Much of the material (e.g., “I Am Keeping Up,” “Lung,” “Vitamins”) calls to mind the Four Tet style captured on Everything Ecstatic : there's the same drum-centered attack, and the same frenetic and ultra-dense blend of freewheeling jazz, unhinged psychedelia, and bouncy hip-hop beat-smithing. (I suspect Rutledge already may be weary of Four Tet—and Prefuse 73 to a presumably lesser degree—being cited in reviews of You, Me & Everyone but the connection is so apparent it would be dishonest not to mention it.) Pedro pushes the cut'n'paste aesthetic to a far greater degree than does Keiran Hebden, which makes You, Me & Everyone feel much more like an experimental collage than straight-up collection of rhythm-based tracks. Six shorter tracks are scattered throughout the fifty-minute album but, in truth, the album feels more like a continuously flowing patchwork with only brief interruptions between songs signaling the transition from one to the next. Transformations occur within single tracks too: flute, drums, vibes, and sax open “Green Apples” with a wailing free jazz improv but the tune gradually morphs into a bluesy funk groove over which trumpet and flute solo.

Pedro anchors the multi-directional studio trickery with handclaps and beats but sometimes, as on “Spools,” Pedro overindulges his adventurous appetite and the material threatens to collapse under the weight of its own excess, a tendency that has also occasionally afflicted Rutledge's one-time collaborator Prefuse 73 (Pedro was one of many guests on Surrounded By Silence ). With the album featuring so few straightforward beat-based moments, “Hope is a Happiness” sounds all the more appealing when Rutledge lays its harpsichord playing over a simple head-nodding beat; sadly, it's only moments before he dismantles the groove and pulls the track in multiple directions. Elsewhere, a welcome moment of classical tranquility emerges in “Sound Song” but again Rutledge can't resist the urge to leave it alone but feels the need to include water noises. Sometimes it's best to keep things simple and leave them be.

March 2008