Eric Copeland – Alien in a Garbage Dump

Eric Copeland - Alien in a Garbage Dump

Eric Copeland - Alien in a Garbage Dump

You’ve met the person before. Good chances you are the person I’m talking about. I’ll admit myself that I am. This type of person is the one who proclaims, “I am a lover of sounds.” What this person is really saying is that make that statement is that they love music so much that they have a connection that runs deeper and resonates within them in a more fundamental way. The love transcends sound designed and presented in traditional ways on traditional instruments, and is an almost metaphysical understanding of sounds truth. These folks often do actually enjoy a wider palate of music than your average Joe, stuff like Flying Saucer Attack’s howling airplane noise, Vladislav Delay’s glitchy ambient webs, Kevin Drumm’s digital abrasiveness, Derek Bailey’s free improv, Richard Chartier’s high frequency microsound, Sunroof’s loopy pastiche, or Merzbow’s ear-splitting drones. These artists undeniably use uncommon sounds, but they use them in an effort to achieve an established aesthetic result. So do sound lovers really love sound for its own sake or do they just love amorphous and obscure musical genres?

Eric Copeland’s newest material, collected on the new full-length Alien in a Garbage Dump, is a line in the sand between lovers of sound, who will love this stuff without the need for reflection, and listeners who like challenging but intelligible music, who will be intrigued but frustrated by this unchartable sonic territory.  Copeland integrates sounds of every stripe, presumably from samples, into pieces relying on only the most basic of rules of musical structure, repetition and rhythm. Pretty much anything else goes, and does. Vocals pitchshifted a mile, cheese guitar solos, decontextualized vocal samples as beats, chill new wave keyboard loops, arcade game music, and whatever else. It’s as if he’s on The Gong Show, and his thing is trying to see how many samples from disparate styles he can combine and turn into something enjoyable before getting gonged off the stage. As a listener, it’s a treat to hear the jarringly awkward beginning of a song and think “this is finally the annoying one” and then listen as it turns into catchy music. This happens over and over, and it melts your brain.

As difficult as this can feel, it’s also the catchiest thing Copeland has been involved with, using hooky and queasy samples in equal measure. Whereas his main band Black Dice projects a wobbly, off-kilter geometry, Alien in a Garbage Dump is more linear and unhinged, like house music in the midst of a fever dream. Or, you could look at Copeland’s solo work as a DJ version of Black Dice, pushing things forward out of a grab bag just for kicks instead of composing lurching jams on musical equipment to take out on the road. Trying too hard to make sense of this music misses the point. One day there might be a genre descriptor for this constitutionally-eclectic, homeless music, but for now it’s probably just best to soak in the sounds he found.

Eric Copeland

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