Breakthrough is a challenge for listeners, and the producers that make up the growing California beats scene. The debut LP of Low End Theory co-founder The Gaslamp Killer isn’t aimed at the dance floor, but beats enthusiasts, the kind of folks that have headphones permanently affixed to their scalps. GLK may be a figure in Southern California, but Breakthrough arrives from 16th Century Europe, the smoky lounges of heroin-fueled free jazz, the rock halls of Turkey, and the producer’s own past as an avid turntablist.
Of Turkish descent, GLK has infused Breakthrough with his love of Anadolu rock. “Critic (with Mophone)”, “Apparitions (with Gonjasufi)”, “Nissim (with Amir Yaghmai)”, each contain various Turkish folk instruments (kaval, saz, hammered dulcimer, and kemenÃ§e) dosed with heavy Cali psych influence. Vocalist Gonjasufi adds demented hysteria to “Apparitions” and “Veins” with his distorted, lyrical murmurs that plod through GLK’s digital sludge.
GLK is assisted with rhythmic syncopation by an array of accomplished musicians, including Adrian Younge and Dirty Drum’s MRR (aka Michael Raymond Russell) on “Dead Vets”, drummer RSI on the “Meat Guilt”, and accomplished violaist/mixer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. “Meat Guilt” is based on simple oscillations where RSI bangs-out a stunning jazz-influenced drum solo, while Atwood-Ferguson’s string arrangements on “Flange Face” are buried underneath layers of synthesized screams and intergalactic sonar frequencies. These two tracks lie on the poles of the GLK disorientation spectrum; warping minds with minimal noise all the way through dense layers of deep cuts.
Found sounds play a significant role in Breakthrough, most notably on “Father” and “Mother” which actually sample old family recordings of GLK’s parents, and “Fuck” which listens like a 1950’s educational tape, set atop a warped orchestral piece, on proper usage of the colloquialism. The penultimate track, ”Seven Years of Bad Luck for Fun” combines the album’s various elements for cataclysmic BDSM. With the skills of a veteran turntablist, GLK shuffles between drum loops, concave guitar reverb, and Dimlit experimental productions before concluding with the cavernous echoes of “In the Dark”.
The dark is where GLK chooses to excel. Given the opportunity, the producer will bring us all deep underground with him.
Essential Tracks: “Flange Face”, “Seven Years of Bad Luck for Fun”