Fred Warmsley has never been fearful, though his full-length debut under a new moniker, Dedekind Cut, might intimidate.
The producer, known in the past as Lee Bannon, has created some of the most challenging pieces of sound collage this side of Aphex Twin. He works in mind-numbing territory, arranging rhythm out of some organic, mostly soft sounds. The music has never been overly complicated, but the way he jumps around from idea to idea in a cut-and-paste format similar to Radiohead’s Kid A might make you think his creative cycle is around a decade long. But it’s not, which leads to a conclusion of more innate ability than meticulous planning.
Unfortunately, ability can only take you so far, which is why it is deeply rewarding knowing that Warmsley’s debut LP as Dedekind Cut, $uccessor (Ded004), is anything but typical, even by his standards. He trades in his placid samples for louder, industrial ones, which creates a colossal and constantly evolving wall of sound that dips and sways with overt confidence. Sometimes it’s as dizzying as watching an Amnesia Scanner video while four Christmas Ales deep. Other times, it can tuck in a casual listener.
Now I want to take a moment to separate $uccessor from other avant-garde electronic music, because that genre descriptor doesn’t fit. I can’t even tell you if $uccessor falls into any defined genre. Usually, Warmsley opts for overly textured samples typical of a plunderphonics release, but he also morphs these samples into ambient soundscapes. Of course the electronics are heavily important, but even the non-music community would have a right to claim some of his content.
$uccessor ends up hovering between several different genres, which is both a good and bad thing. Good because it shows off Warmsley’s taste and creative dexterity, and bad because, well, this album is bound to be perceived as a “what the fuck is going on” Eric Andre Show set.
Earlier this year, Warmsley released a few EPs under the Dedekind Cut name, one being a collaboration. The first of the four, R&D EP, was a quick, jolting ride through jungles of warped 808s. His latest solo EP, American Zen (Ded003), consisted of dense ambiance perfect for a night’s walk. In a way, $uccessor blends together the main takeaways from these EPs — it excels in mood-building through sometimes grimy, sometimes pleasant, always colorful commotion.
Though colorful, the music on $uccessor is completely ambiguous. A different breed. Not even the album’s features have their own defined spot on the record, they just blend. Much of the initial listening experience is actually spent trying to decipher what the hell Warmsley is sampling, rather than dedicating an attention to structure or feel.
But through multiple listens, the focal point on $uccessor has to be Warmsley’s spatial reasoning; his cut-and-paste formula finds a free, untethered area. His no-holds-barred production has never been so prominent, which allows for an eye-widening appreciation of how he stretches and packs his sounds to fit his newfound aesthetic. There is no format, only form. Dedekind Cut acts as the evil twin to a structurally sound Lee Bannon.
It’s hard to pin down most of this album at the end of the day. I cannot even begin to try to interpret any possible deeper meanings, but that seems to be the point of the record. Nobody is really sure what is going on, yet it would not function well if anyone did. The beauty in this record lies in a listener meddling over Warmsley’s work, which, quite like the concept of an actual Dedekind Cut, many of us will inevitably have trouble understanding and comprehending.
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