It’s not surprising that this release by Odd Nosdam is being issued for the third time. It’s an incredibly potent tribute to the late Trish Keenan (of Broadcast), and fittingly for a tribute to that wonderful life, T r i s h is both mightily uplifting and gets tragically cut short. The slim 25-minutes of the release make it too long for an EP, and too brief for an LP, so it winds up feeling perhaps only semi-complete, yet it’s also imbued with an emotional density in each of the six tracks. Originally T r i s h was put out on cassette tape by Chicago’s wonderful BARO label in 2013, swiftly followed by a digital release on Odd Nosdam’s own Burnco Recs. This month sees four years since the Broadcast vocalist suddenly passed away from complications relating to pneumonia after contracting the H1N1 virus, abruptly silencing a uniquely beautiful voice in British music - thus Bristol’s Sonic Cathedral have seen fit to finally put the thing out on thoroughly well-deserved 12-inch vinyl.
Odd Nosdam - aka David P. Madson - made his name as the musical production third of abstract hip-hop group cLOUDDEAD, and has amassed a sizeable body of solo work too. He’s always approached the process of sampling with an open-ended psychedelic touch that brings to mind both J Dilla and The Beta Band in equal measure, crafting poppy grab bag albums that make use of guest appearances from the disparate likes of Mike Patton, Örvar from múm, and Kranky singer-songwriter Jessica Bailiff - for the most part remaining all the while committed to the steady integration of beats. T r i s h somewhat mirrors the latter works of Trish Keenan as a member of Broadcast in collaboration with the Focus Group, where her chants grew dreamier and the sonic backdrops grew more and more surreal, sounding like a late night mix of acid trip and wonky TV channel hopping. Rather than chanting voices though, Odd Nosdam removes his usual beats, and allows his primal musical tools of processed samples and pads to chant instrumentally (or rather to drone), and the beatless - though certainly rhythmic - soundscapes and montages on the release are resultantly a blissfully weird trip relatively similar to that one Broadcast And The Focus Group release.
T r i s h actually opens with the sounds of tv flipping between channels on ‘T a i k u r’, before a sampled voice of an angelic Trish-sound-alike summons submerged acoustic guitar samples and looped blasts of noise, brass, choirs, and strings - all as if picking up a short-circuiting AM radio signal from the other side. ‘L o n j a e’ could actually pass for a sliced up and re-worked Broadcast song, replete with those dreamy female vocals. ‘O l y n n’, featuring Liz Harris (Grouper, Helen), is perhaps the most immediately striking track here. A sodden waterfall of synth notes opens the tune followed by bit-crushed keyboards tracing out an emotional chord movement that repeats while washes of Harris’ signature echoey wordless singing rain down from on high. The track spends six gorgeous minutes in its lo-fi echo chamber, before disappearing into a web of crisscrossing echoes and simmering digital noise.
The title track closes out the album with a grinding blast of weighty organ chords that at point duet with an obscure vocal sample that comes across as something of an avatar for the absent Trish Keenan. It’s a simplistic, ritualistic requiem of a finale, both mournful and celebratory in the face of the loss, and a snapshot of the Broadcast singer’s spirit is perceptible somewhere in the smokily veiled tones.
Odd Nosdam’s always managed to balance straight up hip-hop methods with more abstract approaches to sampling, but T r i s h’s eschewing of all beats makes for an odd little side quest for the producer. In their own right, these six tracks make for a brief excursion into a relatively unexplored textural niche between the psychedelic post-Dilla sampling and straight-up musique concrète that would make for an intriguing, but far from satisfying experiment. In the context of a tribute to the late Trish Keenan however, it all takes on a rarely reached sort of luminescent and wordless melancholy.
8Tristan Bath's Score