I’ve heard of Baroque Obama on the Internet before, as part of a joke classical band, but never as a noise artist. I couldn’t find any information of the pun-using noisician other than this release, An Honest Look at Dishonest People. The 3″ CD-R comes packaged in the plastic slipcovers standard for Pigdurt Productions releases, with an insert featuring a cartoon picture of Barack Obama with a third eye radiating light from his forehead. In terms of theme, the release seems to take a politically misanthropic view of the world, with titles like “Failure in America)” and “We Are Falling Apart (Mankind)” playing a dominant role in this negative depiction of humanity.
As for sound, Baroque Obama has included five shorter-length tracks in around twenty minutes of length. “The Best are Always Over” has no sense of noise at all, instead running with the “baroque” theme of the title in what seems like an attempt to trick the listener into thinking the release will be full of lilting piano and classically composed orchestral scores. For about two minutes, the track carries on with light, melancholy piano until “The Part We Hide” begins with a loud and distorted atonal piano cut. While the rhythmic yet fuzzed-out piano plays its dark hymn, a sonorous beehive buzz of static swarms in the background, all while very faint vocal samples rise and fall in the background. Soon even the piano cuts out for a bassy, musical rhythm, which paints a grim picture for the tone of the track. The distant screams emanating from the static create an unsettling mood, and this carries throughout the track.
“Failure in America (An Honest Look)” takes a more pared-back approach with a stripped wall track that sounds quite distant, but with hints of guitar-driven rhythmic lines and loops. Windy bass batters the sides of the track with a subtle approach, adding another layer to the nice textures of the track. And then, all of it drops out for some stubbly static noise along with jittery electronics in the background. While I like the progression, it would have been interesting to explore the same sound of the opening for an extended period of time, as the distant feel of the track sucked me into a daze.
“Snitch” starts with a loop of what sounds like found sounds mixed into a rhythm, while a distinct fuzz of static worms its way into the soundscape. Quickly a screaming assault of battered electronics whirs in to take over for the loop, which is really only high-end sound with no low bass rumbles. There’s another texture of spotty static underneath, and another layer is soon added which again seems to have notes of vocal manipulations, almost like heavily distorted voices spoken through a loudspeaker, although that could just be the nature of the static’s constant shifts. The loop comes back around halfway through the track, where the static wall cuts out for the drone of what, to me, sounds like a washer spinning its load of laundry. A nice shift in sound, though I would have liked to see the loop expand and progress into the shriek of static rather than have it suddenly change.
“We are Falling Apart (Mankind)” is another synth outro, somewhat like the first track but with a more definite digital sound. It doesn’t really do much for me other than act as a bookend to the release, and I don’t really have a preference either way towards them.
But in the course of 2o minutes, An Honest Look at Dishonest People explores a lot of new territory in wall sounds. What especially stands out is the combination of rhythmic, bleak samples and harsh electronics, but the walls built also have a distinct artistic merit to them that leaves me interested in hearing more of Baroque Obama.