White Reeves – Ultimate Pleasure Til Death (C20, Dynamo Sound Collective)

Drone, Music, Noise, Review

Ultimate Pleasure Til Death is peppered with pictures of David Letterman, the cover being a traditional photo of the late-night host sitting at a desk with a huge smile plastered to his face. The obsession with Letterman is most likely an inside joke between the two artists in White Reeves, although the idea of “ultimate pleasure til death” leads me to wonder if perhaps the artists are riffing on the sexual harassment suits that Letterman has dealt with over the years; somewhat corroborating this theory is the insert included with the tape, where pictures of Letterman are framed around a central photo of Letterman with a woman, but it’s simply a hypothesis on my part.

In any case, the Letterman obsession isn’t really up for review here. There are two ten minute tracks on Ultimate Pleasure Til Death, and both are really loop and synth-heavy, mostly generating beats and drones for a psychedelic wavering of tone. On Side A, simply named “I”, White Reeves take electronic loops of sound and pair them with some percussive elements and some synth work, often allowing parts of the audio to fade out as though each section were taken from a different jam. Sometimes it works, but the piecemeal affect can be too jarring for the style that White Reeves play. However, the digital blips and bloops of this side go nicely with the more rhythmic loops underneath; it’s almost like we’re in some whirring cockpit in space, exploring the nether regions of the universe. Unfortunately, the side ends with an extremely muffled audio clip that I can’t really understand most of the time, although for what it’s worth it seems pretty angry.

Side B, for some inexplicable reason, did not come on my review tape, so unfortunately I had to seek it out digitally. I managed to find it through a blog hosting the clip from Dynamo Sound Collective, so while one-half of this review comes directly from the tape itself, the other half was aided by the Internet. This side starts off with some minimal electronics, often swarms of sound and little clinkings, until it picks up with a synth psychedelia beat that’s strangely peaceful, again as if we’re wandering through space but this time not overwhelmed by the beeping of motors and check engine lights but instead taking in the scenery of pitch darkness and the vastness of emptiness. It’s the better side on this release, not only because it’s not separated like the first side but because of its pleasant, varied loops.

Ultimate Pleasure Til Death is a non-confrontational cassette – it’s not harsh, but it’s somewhat in between, often bridging the gaps between psychedelic music and drone. The first side of this tape is rather underwhelming, but it’s the second half that holds it together – unfortunately, that’s the side of my tape I’m missing.