House Of Woo
[Rvng Intl., 2013]
Jordan Leman, March 13, 2013
Listen: “Peeling An Orange In One Piece”
In this day and age of having music on the go and having almost everything you want at your fingertips, its easy to see how a lot of music listeners, your’s truly included, lose track of having the physical product of a record in hand. Looking through the album notes, gazing at the artwork, experiencing the record with the packaging in hand. Like I said, I have fallen in that purely digital listening habit. I have no vinyl, no CDs, no tapes, no 8-tracks, etc. In the past few years, I have been engulfed in just listening to the music, nothing else. I paid no mind to what the album artwork was or what notes the particular band or artist gave to the listener, I particularly relied on recommendations from friends, websites, and genre tags in choosing the next album I was going to listen to. Maxmillion Dunbar’s cover for House of Woo threw out all those habits and conditioning for the past few years, and surprisingly it paid off, I’m writing a review on it.
Maxmillion Dunbar is Andrew Field-Pickering, a native of Washington D.C. and one half of the D.C. Nu-Disco duo Beautiful Swimmers. Field-Pickering has produced an album of a particular genre that I almost never stray into. House of Woo is, by definition, or recognized as by any connoisseur of electronic music, house music. Now I would have never thought that I would be reviewing an album of this particular genre, but House of Woo is not your stereotypical house album. You’re not going to hear this record at your local twenty-dollar-cover charge nightclub or bar, moreso at your no-cover-charge townie or hipster bar.
One thing in particular that I noticed after reading a review of the album was the disjointed and seemingly off-time beats with the other parts of the songs throughout. However, Field-Pickering does an fantastic job with shimmering and slick synths coupled with occasional tribal percussion and far-Eastern woodwinds that the beats in question just seem to fit in like a puzzle piece that your force to fit and creates a new image, or here, sound, that works. Essentially that’s what becomes the genius of this record. House Of Woo has all the characteristics of a house record, but the feel and atmosphere of an ambient record. Something to sit back and relax to and maybe fall asleep to. Coincidently enough, according to interviews done by Field-Pickering leading up to the release of House of Woo, he states that he spent most of his time putting together House of Woo from his recliner. And what do you know, I’m listening to this record and writing this review from my roommate’s recliner. It all comes full circle sometimes with music.
The cornerstone of the entire record is actually one of the shortest tracks on the entire record, clocking in at just a little over three minutes: “Peeling An Orange In One Piece” is a track that I feel could have been stretched out in to a massive 8-9 minute composition, but Field-Pickering decided to keep it short and sweet with this little number. What hooks you in at the very beginning of the track is the far-Eastern woodwinds, shimmering ’80s synths, and somehow fittingly off-measure beats. It is a combination that doesn’t look good on paper, but Field-Pickering works his magic on this track and seemingly throughout the entire record.
Now, it is left to be seen if a record of this caliber will spring Field-Pickering to become of the hottest new electronic artists to come out of the Eastern seaboard, but this record will surprise some that he hasn’t when they finally get House of Woo in their hands.