I Am the Dot – Minimal Love EP

I Am the Dot - Minimal Love EP

More of a single than a proper extended player, I Am the Dot’s latest release – which just eclipses the twelve minute mark with its three tracks – is the latest in a series of transient yet prolific recordings from Denver’s Zach Tipton. The Young Coyotes member has been releasing small batches of new material at a practically monthly rhythm as of late, and the Minimal Love EP is another potent indicator of the man’s creative ambitions.

Meeting in that surprisingly comfy middle ground between the xx and Band of Horses, Tipton’s compositions retain a decidedly tenuous tone throughout, even as he layers them with shimmering coats of electronic effects and reverb-heavy vocal harmonies. “Mark Twain,” which leads off the EP, is evidence of the vulnerable nature of Tipton’s songwriting; the song fades in with the transparent sound of chimes and synthesized strings before more hastily coating itself in a veneer of wordless vocals, arpeggiated guitar melodies, and a skipping drum groove in 12/8 time. What began as a brooding series of beatless textures quickly gives way to something that sounds far more agitated, with Tipton’s tenor recalling the yelp of BoH’s Ben Bridwell on lines like, “We don’t know which way to roam.”

The title track seems like it was meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek, as extended keyboard harmonies, a rubbery funk bass line, and dulcet vocal coos walk the line between hip-hop swagger and lounge schmaltz. Subtle humor may be at play, but there’s still a tinge of melancholy present, particularly in the chorus where Tipton aggressively pounds the keys and goes all Brian Wilson with several layers of vocal harmony.

Minimal Love’s final cut is also its most developed. “That Golden Spiral” gets underway with an off-kilter drumbeat and a cyclical bass line that weaves its way in between falsetto howls and plaintive piano tones. It’s a clever amalgamation of hazy atmosphere and bombastic percussion. Truth be told, the song is the stuff of jam bands, given to infinite interpretations and variations. Exuding a strong space funk vibe (“Round and round and round and round forever”), this is what music might sound like if My Morning Jacket ever held a gig on the moon.

The album’s title is something of a misnomer; the only thing minimal about this EP is its lack of songs. Given all the intriguing ideas and ingenuity that Tipton was able to pack into just three compositions, it seems like a less hasty release schedule might’ve resulted in a more cohesive and fully realized listening experience. Provided the next I Am the Dot record is as inspired as this one, I’d be willing to wait at least six months if it yields the same quality but greater quantity.