Music News

Tyler Potts

Sure, most concept albums are dreary, but that's only because the ideas behind them are usually pretentious and overwrought. Selections From 52 Songs, in contrast, is based on a notion that's as simple as it is elegant. Potts, a computer-age instrumentalist, decided that he would write and record one song a week throughout 2004. This disc, available at Wax Trax and Twist & Shout, is a warm and atmospheric snapshot of the project to date, with Potts taking listeners on a guided tour of a creative process he's also documenting on his website,

Although time is obviously a major factor in Potts's experiment, he doesn't let chronology get the best of him. The CD kicks off with "5" (the ditty completed during the fifth week) and concludes with the comparatively primitive "1," making room for plenty of other numbers along the way. Highlights include "13," a multi-faceted drone featuring samples from a stack of old 45s; "4," a highly visual opus that Potts describes as the "soundtrack to a scene in a movie with actors you've never heard of"; and "14," which builds an enticing and unexpectedly graceful sonic structure atop an otherwise chintzy Casio preset.

Potts specializes in ambient miniatures whose beauty is enhanced by a deliberate pace, the skillful manipulation of fragmentary themes and the subtle art of juxtaposition. The result isn't just another green world. Rather, it's a consistently rewarding look at a promising artist who's evolving before our ears. What a concept.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts