It is raining in Chicago. I mention this because I love the rain, I love the sensation of electrifying little drops shattering against flesh, I love the strange, macabre world mist and fog can conjure out of your everyday surroundings, I love the stinging, lashing whips of November, I love how everything becomes wet and glistening and gray, alive with sound, static surfaces running with life. The heat has finally broken here, that terrible, terrible heat that has held Chicagoland in its grasp seemingly since the beginning of time — fever dreams and mirages — and strangled us, a moist choking, Curley’s left hand squeezing tight on the Loop. I tell you this because, critical tabula rasa aside, it is a fact that it is raining right now, the heat has broken, my mood is almost good and nothing is created — not even a music review — in a vacuum.
In all fairness, however, the fantastically named Pressed And’s EP, Hyper Thistle, would have been enjoyable even if the hot air was still blasting off of Lake Michigan like a blow dryer and I melted beneath the headphones, which seems suitable for music created by two gentlemen, one from North Carolina and the other from Atlanta, places where they know something about being uncomfortably hot. Vocal manipulations, talking synths, and a pleasant balance of influences both aged (from country twang to ’90s rap beats) and fresh (rapid fire clicks, soft percussion that begs for a leaning in, intimate listen) carry Hyper Thistle; electronic music without traditional vocals are typically anathema to me, but Pressed And’s combination of brevity — an extremely important trait; I am not one who can sit and listen to any given song, particularly one with only one essence, for any given amount of time, no matter what chemical cocktails may be in my system — and texture is a strong panacea.
Perhaps nowhere is that utilization of texture more apparent then on “Komuso Flutter Kick IV,” which opens sounding like the inside of a sheriff’s light bar, oscillating, before turning into what could be considered some kind of nebulous, extra dimensional Kid ‘n Play, and all of this before a gurgling, fat line arrives and squiggles to and fro. Eventually a thicker lushness takes hold, before the entire thing is wound down and allowed to spiral out of existence.
“Andross to Aneki” (Star Fox reference? too lazy to vet and fall into that Google black hole) comes across in a more traditional electropop-cum-chill way, lacking some of the originality of the other pieces but finding its own in a more than able representation of some less fresh sounds. “Andross” is shimmering and cold, like winter seaside sun rises, and really picks up speed roughly a minute and a half in, when Pressed And abandons the more amorphous aesthetic and the cut becomes something more streamlined, pop, and accessible. A similar feeling of approachable, enjoyable song craft permeates “Sudden Ground,” a jazzy little piece powered by breathy sounds that goes from choppy to smooth like a coffee grinder.
Sparkling, sepia sunshine radiates from “Tusk In The Rock Flowers” and “When She Ran,” Super 8 film of fall days, everything the color of rust. The former evokes images — drenched in that fat, lush Super 8 grain, of course — of a hep dance floor sequestered in a tobacco barn, high-waisted shorts and leggings and tweed blazers grinding beneath the moon betwixt hanging rows of air curing tobacco leaves. The latter is sparkling and bright, electronics and vocals manipulated in such a way as to be decidedly inorganic, but with enough traces of humanity to become an endearing facsimile, like a Roomba.
Hyper Thistle is fine electronic music, carrying all of the lofty, bohemian ideals of the genre with a heavy dose of friendly, poppy construction that manages to still sound unique amongst its peers; those who steer clear of the genre due to hipster pretensions or aural exhaustion would be well inclined to give Pressed And a listen.
(Mush Records, no address provided)