Thumbtack Smoothie: Fall Back
Quake Trap

Thumbtack Smoothie's (San Francisco-based sonic alchemist Carl Coletti) approach to experimental electronic music-making is unorthodox, to say the least. Transferring his percussive skills into the digital realm, the one-time ‘traditional' drummer generates his material by ‘playing' his engorged sampler pads in real time and triggering via hand gestures infrared light D-Beam controllers that further alter the sampled sounds. The explorative and spontaneous results seem like a natural outgrowth of the process; what's less predictable is the material's almost suffocating density and nightmarish ambiance. Though one can occasionally hear traces of hip-hop, industrial, and drum & bass in Fall Back's dozen pieces, Thumbtack Smoothie's music is like some lumbering, semi-dazed monstrosity that fiendishly devours everything in its path as it scours the fringes for signs of life: “Chipple” belches and groans like the amplified soundtrack of an animal's digestive system, “Let the Rhythm Point...Quickly...Yogi” grotesquely grinds before expiring, and “Monkupine” approximates the sound of skin being peeled from one's flesh layer by layer. The album's sound is often so alien that, when snippets of synth melodies appear at the start of “Ember,” the moment almost startles for sounding so conventionally ‘musical.' File under ‘Uneasy Listening' for sure.

October 2006