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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Co La: Dialtone Earth/Fugitive of Leisure

For those of us who are in denial that the end of Halloween just marked the beginning of the winter holiday season, a dose of musical escapism may be in order. Co La, the solo project of Matt Papich (founder of Ecstatic Sunshine and mainstay of the Baltimore experimental music scene), is the man willing to provide your fix. Co La’s "Dialtone Earth" (essentially a 48-minute mix), and "Fugitive of Leisure" (a four-track EP), both available via Bandcamp, are just right for warming up ears as the weather cools down.

Listening to “Dialtone Earth” is like unfolding a desert island soundtrack to a strange mix of movies. Take the first third: bubbly instrumentation that could belong in the 1950s (soaring strings included), fused with subtle reggae skank. It’s Pleasantville meets Pulp Fiction – innocent until you scratch the surface and find a bored housewife ready to dance her way to a drugged-up stupor.

The vibe is definitely by design: “Dialtone Earth” is interspersed with readings from Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, “The Crying of Lot 49,” a book full of hippie satire and conspiracy theories. The mix’s psychedelic feel is punctuated by the final 20 minutes, which comprise ‘80s synth sensibilities, a splash of island calypso and swishy dark ambience (think Emeralds popping Ambien while on a Caribbean vacation).

Co La’s “Fugitive of Leisure,” released in September, takes the dreamy state of “Dialtone Earth” and makes it heavier and sexier. If the video for the first track, “Blood Orange Crush,” doesn’t make you feel a little (or way) hotter on a cold day, I don’t know what will:

Co La - Blood Orange Crush from Co La on Vimeo.

Another track, “Blanketing Marrakesh” fizzes and pops like some steamy international adventure, and the last song, “Manhattan Possessions” twists up the blues then sticks it underwater. Personally, I prefer this latter EP overall, since I’m a fan of wonky and frenetic beats – but I’ll fall sleep tonight listening to “Dialtone Earth.”

--Elaine Ordiz

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