When the looping bongos come in, a bit of barely audible lo-fi dissonance and finally what sounds like an organ, don’t get frustrated and run for the hills. There are a lot of solo artists out there. Yes, anyone with some basic equipment can make a tape without being in a band or a trained musician. Yes, tropical psychedelia is pretty terrible, and yes neo-psych is becoming the new indie. Yes, it sucks.
I had all these thoughts the first time I listened to this Dead Luke tape a while back (my first experience with his music), but I found that unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Dead Luke has more than a few tricks up his sleeve and enough originality to set him apart from a lot of trendy blog crap. A basic synth and guitar track, with some gooey lines that is vaguely pretty and hypnotic suddenly rises and energizes and burns through the air. Ho-hum moments become serious drum freak-outs and inner demon exorcisms. Blown out 80’s video game music turns into an all out guitar burner, with some clean lines but a majority of it just distortion violently bleeding all over the track, before the track itself is manipulated and cut out into infinity.
I guess my point here is that while nearly anyone can make some mildly interesting synth and guitar jams that don’t really go anywhere, Dead Luke has the skill and vision to make it something much, much more. A lot of artists also try to straddle the line between pop and experimentation with mediocre results.
While Dead Luke’s brand of pop is the delay effected out the ass type, he does have a knack for melody. He also makes some pretty great noise/ambience and when he combines the two it gets pretty heavy. A blown out, downer blues song slowly gets more disjointed before he comes in with a bunch of tremolo fucked soloing that eventually just blasts off into absolute space with some shimmering, glorious synth runs.
Other songs morph and grow until they just become melted down into blissful walls of noise.
I was going to wait for his LP on Florida’s Dying to drop a review, but after hearing said LP I like the tape a lot more. The LP is cleaned up a little, a little more song-driven and in no way bad, I just find this tape to be way more diverse, challenging and ultimately rewarding. At times I thought, oh this sounds like every other guy with a drum machine or guitar, or oh, this sounds exactly like something you’d hear on Night People (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way), but in the end Dead Luke wins. His songcraft is solid, his ability is obvious and most importantly he does fresh things and takes you places where you might not expect to go, but ultimately rewards your patience in doing so.
Oh yeah, I was also going to say this cassette is more like a LP because it is crafted as an album, not a collection of songs for a tape. Just a head’s up. So it’s a shitty thing to have to preface this article with some kind of warning about what Dead Luke is NOT, but with Altered Zones on the rise you have to be careful. Rest assured, this man is a player. I wish I could of jammed this tape in a vacuum and just ignored all the other bullshit, but sadly I am only human.
Probably my favorite artist of the year of whom’s existence I was made aware of, uh, this year. This is still in print for some reason. Buy it from Night People.