i think its about experimental music. .. ... .... ..... ...... ....... ........ ......... .......... ...........

Monday, January 25, 2016

Doofydoo - The Tourist (review)

I moved from my home town of Sacramento impulsively when I was nineteen and for the most part, didn’t look back. Among other rationale for this, I give the typical reason that many Sacramento expats cite: “It’s hella boring” (or something along those lines). But I’ve always kind of known in the back of my mind that the “boring” description was a bit unfair and I’m always trying to disprove the theory, keeping my ears open for unique projects in and around my home turf. So, when I received such a submission from experimental Sacramento producer Drew Walker, AKA Doofydoo, I was more than intrigued.

Drew has been in a handful of bands over the years like Gentleman Surfer, Pregnant, Chelsea Wolfe, and Alak, as well as spearheaded dozens of community and art events in the Sacramento area. His latest such project is called The Tourist, and it’s pretty ambitious both in concept and execution. For the past year or so, Drew has been on tour on the west coast, but this was no ordinary tour. Each concert was unique to the city performed in. He explored certain ideas about the place that both reflected the audience and opened a dialogue with that community. Drew did this by researching and sampling audio about relevant cultural topics in that area. Using his tape machines and various samplers, loopers etc., he put together a set of experimental tracks with that audio. The fifteen different albums he has out now are live recordings of those sets: fifteen cities, fifteen albums. Drew is a busy man.

If you’re wondering what these albums sound like, they’re sort of like a whimsical audio documentary with a beat. Vocal phrases are looped in a funky, rhythmic way, often with a drum machine beat. Psychedelic guitar melodies usually lay the musical foundation while echo, pitch shifting and various other trippy effects keep it interesting along the way. The samples continue to mutate, creating new and often humorous meanings. The method provides opportunities for a variety of ironic moments, like in “China Town” on the San Francisco album. The carefree vibe of the melody creates an amusing back drop for the angry vocal samples (someone really doesn’t care for herb gardens).

All in all it’s a charming lo-fi approach to music making and a fun listen. The pieces aren’t always developed songs per-se, but that’s not really the point. It’s about capturing something ephemeral according to Drew: “It's a snapshot, a time capsule. It's about the now on the west coast, and exploration and sharing and making it up as you go along.” It’s not surprising, given this philosophy, that Drew also has a background in photography, which is all about capturing a moment in time. In fact, The Tourist project also includes photography, as well as locally-gathered drawings and writings which he is currently exhibiting in galleries along the west coast.

Reflecting on my own journey, something Drew said in our emails stuck out to me about “revealing overlooked or under-analyzed truths” about a place. Inconsistencies and differences in perception seem to come to the surface when listening to all these sound bytes. In one of the first tracks on the Sacramento album, an old patriarch is droning on about how Sacramento is “where your kids will grow up, play, and go to school.” That’s exactly my backstory and the perception people have of the place, but some of that youth culture actually grew up to cultivate a unique creative community in the area that has been going strong for years, out of which comes projects like this, and that’s far from suburban or “boring” if you ask me.

A good place to start exploring the project is The Tourist Sampler which collects various pieces from the fifteen albums:

The entire Tourist Collection is available on Doofydoo’s bandcamp page for about $5 a pop: doofydoo.bandcamp.com You can also check out some more photography here.

Matt Ackerman

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