Sound People: Teatime
Under The Spire

Sound People Paul Dickow (Strategy) and Jesse Johnson (Gulls) combine their wide-ranging musical interests for a freeform, fifty-minute set of ambient space dub and mutant jazz on their debut album Teatime. The duo came together as a result of Johnson's membership in the Evolutionary Jass Band, whose first album, Change of Scene, appeared on Dickow's label Community Library in 2006. Recorded live in single takes during sessions in 2008 and 2009, Teatime exudes a loose and explorative vibe in five tracks that merge Dickow's live-processed hand percussion and electronics with Johnson's live processed trumpet, keyboards, mbira, and electronics. The temperature rises in the album's five tracks but more to a level of mid-afternoon humidity as opposed to Dionysian fire, and three of the five pieces are long-from explorations that stretch out past the eleven-minute mark.

Things get underway with “Awesome Chai / Crispy Tall,” a thick stew of cosmic wooziness, percussion, and King Tubby-styled dub production effects. “Lost Jam” features eleven minutes of explorative trumpet bluster and trippy electronic flourishes underlaid with a relaxed, percussion-heavy pulse rooted in African and dub rhythmning. As its electronics-and-percussion caravan makes its slow nomadic trek across the desert sands, “Awesome Oolong” oozes some of that dazed sunblindedness characteristic of Jon Hassell's expeditions. “Good Question” conjures a smeary, heat stroke-inducing oasis of ambient-psychedlic drone drift that also has one foot in Hassell's camp.

To listeners familiar with its creators' past work, Teatime's music might at first blush seem a bit of a surprise, given the overall house music focus of Dickow's Strategy music and the dizzying cocktail of beat swagger, horns, and synthesizers that Johnson unleashed on the recent Gulls' EP Mean Sound (Boomarm Nation), but closer reflection reveals Sound People to be a natural outgrowth of the duo's shared interests in multiple experimental music forms, including dub, improv, space jazz, krautrock, kosmische musik, et al. Along those lines, it's easy to hear Teatime as one more natural step in Dickow's “World House” trajectory.

June 2011