Strategy: Drumsolo's Delight

Given the album title and Paul Dickow's own one-time stint as a drummer for the group Emergency, one naturally expects Drumsolo's Delight to emphasize percussion with tracks built around drum breaks of one sort or another—a reasonable assumption, perhaps, but largely wrong. The minimal traces of drum sounds that do appear are so radically transformed and situated in such disarming contexts that the music suggests alien space jazz emanating from some remote galaxy. Moving on from last year's accomplished debut Strut, the album finds Dickow (aka Strategy) burrowing further into ambient electronic territory. The overall sound is hazy, at times murky, with Dickow crafting atmospheric and distinctive pieces that marry rhythmic hints of dub, funk, and even soul—if tangentially—to spectral masses of reverberant ambience. An interesting tension is thus created between the subtle insistence of the rhythm elements and the electronics' more static qualities. Both the opener “Cascadian Nights” and “Super Shewolf Inna City” eschew beats altogether in favour of drifting atmospheres of glistening tones. “Drumsolo's Delight,” by contrast, adds swirls of dubby echoes to a muffled samba groove, while the wavering base of “Final Super Zen” includes bongo-like percussion. He departs from the overall template by including a restrained male vocal on “Walkingtime.”' Strangely enough, it structurally resembles a soul track, with some call-and-response between the male vocalist and the massed male choir, yet Dickow subverts the style by smothering them with layers of dense clatter until they're only faintly audible. Drumsolo's Delight closes with “The Jazzy Drumsolo,” twelve episodic minutes of advancing and receding ambient waves. It ends this captivating recording in auspicious manner, yet, having reached this stage, the listener is now so attuned to its unusual style that the absence of drums seems hardly unusual at all.

April 2004