‘Workaround’ is the lucidly playful and ambitious solo debut album by rhythm-obsessive musician and DJ, Beatrice Dillon for PAN. It combines her love of UK club music’s syncopated suss and Afro-Caribbean influences with a gamely experimental approach to modern composition and stylistic fusion, using inventive sampling and luminous mixing techniques adapted from modern pop to express fresh ideas about groove-driven music and perpetuate its form with timeless, future-proofed clarity.
Recorded over 2017-19 between studios in London, Berlin and New York, ‘Workaround’ renders a hypnotic series of polymetric permutations at a fixed 150bpm tempo. Mixing meticulous FM synthesis and harmonics with crisply edited acoustic samples from a wide range of guests including UK Bhangra pioneer Kuljit Bhamra (tabla); Pharoah Sanders Band’s Jonny Lam (pedal steel guitar); techno innovators Laurel Halo (synth/vocal) and Batu (samples); Senegalese Griot Kadialy Kouyaté (Kora), Hemlock’s Untold and new music specialist Lucy Railton (cello); amongst others, Dillon deftly absorbs their distinct instrumental colours and melody into 14
bright and spacious computerised frameworks that suggest immersive, nuanced options for dancers, DJs and domestic play.
‘Workaround’ evolves Dillon’s notions in a coolly unfolding manner that speaks directly to the album’s literary and visual inspirations, ranging from James P. Carse’s book ‘Finite And Infinite Games’ to the abstract drawings of Tomma Abts or Jorinde Voigt as well as painter Bridget Riley’s essays on grids and colour. Operating inside this rooted but mutable theoretical wireframe, Dillon’s ideas come to life as interrelated, efficient patterns in a self-sufficient system.
With a naturally fractal-not-fractional logic, Dillon’s rhythms unfold between unresolved 5/4 tresillo patterns, complex tabla strokes and spark-jumping tics in a fluid, tactile dance of dynamic contrasts between strong/light, sudden/restrained, and bound/free made in reference to the notational instructions of choreographer Rudolf Laban. Working in and around the beat and philosophy, the album’s freehand physics contract and expand between the lissom rolls of Bhamra’s tabla in the first, to a harmonious balance of hard drum angles and swooping FM synth cadence featuring additional synth and vocal from Laurel Halo in ‘Workaround Two’, while the extruded strings of Lucy Railton create a sublime tension at the album’s palatecleansing denouement, triggering a scintillating run of technoid pieces that riff on the kind of swung physics found in Artwork’s seminal ‘Basic G’, or Rian Treanor’s disruptive flux with a singularly tight yet loose motion and infectious joy.
Crucially, the album sees Dillon focus on dub music’s pliable emptiness, rather than the moody dematerialisation of reverb and echo. The substance of her music is rematerialised in supple, concise emotional curves and soberly freed to enact its ideas in balletic plies, rugged parries and sweeping, capoeira-like floor action. Applying deeply canny insight drawn from her years of practice as sound designer, musician and hugely knowledgable/intuitive DJ, ‘Workaround’ can be heard as Dillon’s ingenious solution or key to unlocking to perceptions of stiffness, darkness or grid-locked rigidity in electronic music. And as such it speaks to an ideal of rhythm-based and experimental music ranging from the hypnotic senegalese mbalax of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, through SND and, more currently, the hard drum torque of DJ Plead; to adroitly exert the sensation of weightlessness and freedom in the dance and personal headspace.
In the mid-1970s, a force of nature swept across the continental United States, cutting across all strata of race and class, rooting in our minds, our homes, our culture. It wasn’t The Exorcist, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or even bell-bottoms, but instead a book called The Secret Life of Plants. The work of occultist/former OSS agent Peter Tompkins and former CIA agent/dowsing enthusiast Christopher Bird, the books shot up the bestseller charts and spread like kudzu across the landscape, becoming a phenomenon. Seemingly overnight, the indoor plant business was in full bloom and photosynthetic eukaryotes of every genus were hanging off walls, lording over bookshelves, and basking on sunny window ledges. The science behind Secret Life was specious: plants can hear our prayers, they’re lie detectors, they’re telepathic, able to predict natural disasters and receive signals from distant galaxies. But that didn’t stop millions from buying and nurturing their new plants.
Perhaps the craziest claim of the book was that plants also dug music. And whether you purchased a snake plant, asparagus fern, peace lily, or what have you from Mother Earth on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles (or bought a Simmons mattress from Sears), you also took home Plantasia, an album recorded especially for them. Subtitled “warm earth music for plants…and the people that love them,” it was full of bucolic, charming, stoner-friendly, decidedly unscientific tunes enacted on the new-fangled device called the Moog. Plants date back from the dawn of time, but apparently they loved the Moog, never mind that the synthesizer had been on the market for just a few years. Most of all, the plants loved the ditties made by composer Mort Garson.
Few characters in early electronic music can be both fearless pioneers and cheesy trend-chasers, but Garson embraced both extremes, and has been unheralded as a result. When one writer rhetorically asked: “How was Garson’s music so ubiquitous while the man remained so under the radar?” the answer was simple. Well before Brian Eno did it, Garson was making discreet music, both the man and his music as inconspicuous as a Chlorophytum comosum. Julliard-educated and active as a session player in the post-war era, Garson wrote lounge hits, scored plush arrangements for Doris Day, and garlanded weeping countrypolitan strings around Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” He could render the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel alike into easy listening and also dreamed up his own ditties. “An idear” as Garson himself would drawl it out. “I live with it, I walk it, I sing it.”
But as his daughter Day Darmet recalls: “When my dad found the synthesizer, he realized he didn’t want to do pop music anymore.” Garson encountered Robert Moog and his new device at the Audio Engineering Society’s West Coast convention in 1967 and immediately began tinkering with the device. With the Moog, those idears could be transformed. “He constantly had a song he was humming,” Darmet says. “At the table he was constantly tapping.” Which is to say that Mort pulled his melodies out of thin air, just like any household plant would.
The Plantae kingdom grew to its height by 1976, from DC Comics’ mossy superhero Swamp Thing to Stevie Wonder’s own herbal meditation, Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. Nefarious manifestations of human-plant interaction also abounded, be it the grotesque pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the pothead paranoia of the US Government spraying Mexican marijuana fields with the herbicide paraquat (which led to the rise in homegrown pot by the 1980s). And then there’s the warm, leafy embrace of Plantasia itself.
“My mom had a lot of plants,” Darmet says. “She didn’t believe in organized religion, she believed the earth was the best thing in the whole world. Whatever created us was incredible.” And she also knew when her husband had a good song, shouting from another room when she heard him humming a good idear. Novel as it might seem, Plantasia is simply full of good tunes.
Garson may have given the album away to new plant and bed owners, but a decade later a new generation could hear his music in another surreptitious way. Millions of kids bought The Legend of Zelda for their Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1986 and one distinct 8-bit tune bears more than a passing resemblance to album highlight “Concerto for Philodendron and Pothos.” Garson was never properly credited for it, but he nevertheless subliminally slipped into a new generations’ head, helping kids and plants alike grow.
Hearing Plantasia in the 21st century, it seems less an ode to our photosynthesizing friends by Garson and more an homage to his wife, the one with the green thumb that made everything flower around him. “My dad would be totally pleased to know that people are really interested in this music that had no popularity at the time,” Darmet says of Plantasia’s new renaissance. “He would be fascinated by the fact that people are finally understanding and appreciating this part of his musical career that he got no admiration for back then.” Garson seems to be everywhere again, even if he’s not really noticed, just like a houseplant.
Human Pitch is proud to welcome Seoul-based duo Salamanda to the label for the release of their third LP ashbalkum - a portal into unseen worlds, enchanting stasis, & laughter in the face of our evolving realities. Across an effervescent 39 minute runtime, ashbalkum provides a spellbinding view into how we interact with the world around us - one where one’s own being, language, & nature itself are all rendered infinitely mutable.
Written during the surrealist landscape of summer 2021 somewhere between a sweet dream & a beautiful nightmare, ashbalkum accesses a playful tranquility that mirrors our tumultuous present - distantly intimate, static & constantly changing, moving while standing still, all the while narrowly evading the pressures of our pre-apocalyptic world looming just overhead. Through their collaborative energy steeped in joy, friendship, & experimentation, Salamanda transports us towards even further surreality - taking their sound to wholly new frontiers while aiming to just have fun creating together & living presently.
ashbalkum’s namesake stems from symbolic & phonetic reinterpretation - specifically, a Korean phrase for the realization that what you’ve been experiencing as “reality” is actually a dream. The transmutation of this humorous existentialism into new meaning forms the core of ashbalkum - blissfully maneuvering through life, basking in irreverent states of lucidity, & attuning all frequencies to fellow dreamers within the dream.
Do dreams always reflect what we think? Is what we feel within dreams real?
Ultimately, Salamanda don’t seek to answer these questions, so much as revel in the delightful liminality of it all.
Originally it came out on UpTop Entertainment in 1998 on CD
Detroit based hip hop group Da'Enna C aka Da Enna Cirkle formed in 1991 consisted of P. Gruv, Sleeepy D aka 3E, Boog Woog and DJ Dez (Andres) the group has released 6 12" EP's, 1 Maxi Cassette (1994) and 1 full length CD.
Da' Enna C is known for being the first group to release a Dilla production the song was "Now" included on the You Can't Use My Pen EP (1994) released on the UpTop Entertainment Record Label. In 1999 the group went into hiatus, focusing more on production for other artist an entities, producing a string of beat records for Hipnotech which included releasing three Enna C songs on the Beats & Rhyme 12 inch Series and another previously unreleased song recorded in 1994 - True to Rap produced by J Dilla and DJ Dez HR-018 (2010).