Andrew Pekler: Cue

Andrew Pekler's the kind of artist who frustrates journalists intent on slotting figures into genre categories, as every one of his albums sounds like the work of a different person. On stylistic grounds certainly, Cue has little in common with 2005's Strings + Feedback (Staubgold) or 2004's Nocturnes, False Dawns & Breakdowns (~scape). On the new release, rhythms of either a jazz- or techno-related sort are absent, replaced instead by skeletal percussive accompaniment, and melodies are handled by piano, analog synthesizer, and guitar; rounding out the template, vinyl crackle and feedback bring added texture to Pekler's mood settings.

Broached solely on its own terms, Cue is initially mystifying until, that is, its third track brings the project into clear focus: “Pensive Boogie” sounds like nothing so much as a long-lost track from Eno's Music for Films , and the later “Vertical Gardens” and “Dim Star” sound similarly Eno-like in character. That's a compliment, incidentally, as Cue, like Music for Films, features marvelous instrumental vignettes that briefly come into view and then just as quickly step aside. Opening the album with a tribal tattoo that immediately declares Cue's idiosyncratic character, “On” ends up having more in common with the Krautrock-psychedelic fusion explored by Jan Jelinek in his recent releases (Tierbeobachtungen, Kosmischer Pitsch) than past Pekler forays like the jazz-flavoured Station To Station. The pulsing beat and phasing effects in “Vertical Gardens,” on the other hand, might suggest Krautrock but the swirling synth lines revive memories of Robert Fripp's snub-nosed guitar sound on Another Green World.

kranky's accompanying notes allow the project to be contextualized more clearly. Inspired by the ‘library music albums' genre where relatively anonymous composers create functional music to serve scripted guidelines, Pekler likewise creates pieces that adhere to instructional blueprints for a given piece's instrumentation and character (for example, the phrase for “Roomsound” reads “ambiguous Western atmosphere resolving into children's tune, swirling cymbals added”). The album title therefore can be interpreted as a reference to the short phrases (shown on the release's back cover) or to the literal cues used by TV producers and film director. Pekler's ‘oblique strategy' proves resourceful in this case, as it engenders a radical shift in style but one that's sonically and conceptually rich.

May 2007