Coming on like the deadpan offspring of La Monte Young and Frank Zappa, Prants inject a welcome note of mischief into the oft-furrowed brows of the experimental underground. The duo of Chris Cooper and Bhob Rainey have created two long form pieces that mix wheedling synth drones with found sound fragments and muted grumbles, with abrupt jump cuts that result in playful, almost absurdist collage.
Serious-minded fellow travellers need not fret. Hot Shaker Meet Lead Donut is not Weird Al Yankovic. Any humour in these pieces is derived from a cheeky prod at our earholes and our giggles of nervous surprise at the jump cuts. Vapor Viper starts as the pair mean to go on, laying down an ear-splitting whine that spits and fizzes like some highly concentrated death ray from the mothership, slowly phasing, with a distorted blistering at the edges. It widens out into something truly beautiful, an icy cavern of sound with sonic fragments echoing off every glassy facet.
Yet just as we’re getting all Doctor Manhattan, there’s one of those unexpected switches to a sample of church bells – eh? – and a sudden drop in volume. It’s subdued, near silence. A background hum. The hint of an echoing pulse. Ghost loops. The sound of traffic. Then a final section of drone is despoiled by an electronic blurt near the end. Unbeautiful.
Igotu Otius is more manic. The duo are assisted by gaggle of additional personnel, on cello, contrabass, viola and – get this – dry ice, (check the Bandcamp page for the full cast list) who add all sorts of textural and sonic interventions.
A burst of noise followed by some polyphonic modular gunk give the early minutes a teeming, squishy feel. All sorts of bloops and gurgles follow, as if Jim Carrey has been let loose in Elektronmusikstudion Stockholm after a few too many double espressos.
There’s a cunning switch at about four minutes, with acoustic instruments taking over from the electronics for a minimalist free improv session. The scrapes and plinks are given a bit of David Tudor flavour by an incessant, bio-electronic chirruping. It’s like having two browser windows open on different YouTube videos at the same time. I like it, but it gets a bit easier to process as it goes on and everyone seems to lock together into a bubbling, creaking stew.
The crew hold their nerve on this section, establishing a fantastic retro-futurist-improv low-key hubbub for a good while. Nevertheless, all good things must end. Gradually everything fades away, like the last guests at party, the wine all drunk and the cigarettes stubbed out, stumbling home to their beds at 4am.