Music News

Ron Bucknam

Don't let the warm, wooden tones of the marimba fool you: Every sound, shade and nuance heard on this disc originates from an electronic drum (Ed for short). And through the calculated miracle of digital touchpads and proper fingertip placement, Ed chirps and urps its way through an infinite combination of synthetic tones and tempos. Guiding listeners through a disjointed aural landscape of subconscious Morse code courtesy of Bucknam, the cuts can't help but feel overtly personal.

But beneath that fuse-blown, syncopated memory beats the heart of a joker. Proving that humor definitely belongs in music, Ox lumbers through an improvised instrumental medley for close to fifty minutes. Nuttier than a tin-roof sundae, its whimsy is the key ingredient of its charm: gong-driven meditations ("Ghost Dance") mesh with quasi-house music ("Vexations") and the clatter-happy "Down With DJ Salinger (At the Scrap Yard)," which approximates gamelan percussionists toiling on a lunar surface. With a surprise a second, the fifteen tracks reach a climax of sorts during "Wact" (first unveiled at 2003's Avant-Guitar Summit with fellow sound-muckers Dr. Gregory S. Walker and Neil Haverstick), in which our little drummer boy's addled thoughts ricochet somewhere between heaven and a factory job. The conclusion? Get thee to a Pokery. (Available through mail-order: P.O. Box 1991 Denver, CO 80201.)

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John La Briola