Sam Prekop – Old Punch Card (Thrill Jockey)

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They say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I imagine that Old Punch Card is what a synthesizer experiences when it dies. Every frequency modulation. Every cable repair. Every time it was turned on and off. The static. The feedback. Every effervescent note. Every long luxurious chord. All the strange sounds made between the music. With the exception of the occasional plucked guitar string, Old Punch Card is a radiophonic eulogy.

There are moments of pure noise and moments of synth magic. The album shifts from crackling bursts to wet sonic waves to indecipherable field recordings to a cacophony of ecstatic bleeps and bloops. Old Punch Card is an album of discovery. It’s more like brewing, percolating or distilling than actually producing. No beats. No songs. Just the sound of Prekop at play with warm vintage machines.

It’s an fascinating diversion for Prekop – not unlike Broadcast’s Microtronics. For fans of The Sea and Cake the album should come as a bit of a surprise. It might be Prekop’s own Metal Machine Music – although not even fractionally as abrasive. There’s actually a huge amount of enjoyment to be found (particularly in the modest epic November September) but as with most musique concrete, it’s hard to imagine pulling this one out more than once a year. Ultimately, it’s just a lot of fucking around, but truly a most pleasant and engaging type of fucking around. It’ll be interesting to see how all this lab work informs Prekop’s release.

Heath Killen

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Heath Killen is a graphic designer, illustrator and blogger currently based in Newcastle, Australia. You can hire him. He works for money or wine.

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