Gulls: Running Times EP
Boomarm Nation

Every six months or so, Boomarm Nation main man Jesse Munro Johnson issues another choice EP of Gulls material, and Running Times arrives right on time to uphold that tradition handsomely. The five-cut release shows once again that Johnson possesses the rare ability to dazzle the listener with artistry and imagination without skimping on the material's floor-filling qualities. For the record, the Portland-based imprint is making the EP available in vinyl (edition of 200), cassette tape, and digital formats, with the latter expanded upon with remixes by SWAMI MILLION, Teleseen, El Buho, and Michael Bruce, among others.

The opening title track swings into position in a haze of dubby echo before catching one's ear with a sinuous melodica riff, punchy bass line, and quasi-dancehall-dub rhythms. Johnson's use of trippy production techniques is perhaps the track's major selling-point, however, and it's a sensibility he brings to the EP's others, too. After a declamatory trumpet sample inaugurates the song, “Cherish the Boy” takes flight in a high-spirited blend of bass synths, squiggles, and drum gallop. “Overplexx” likewise bolts from the gate in a dizzying storm of distorted voice effects and beats, while scene-stealer “SOID” sprinkles its clap-happy groove, arguably the set's funkiest, with neon bleeps and fabulously trippy synth hooks, before a final inning plunge into beatless melancholia. Offsetting the too-short “Cherish the Boy” is the generously timed “OB Snaxx,” whose chopped vocal treatments add extra spice to the tune's already engrossing downtempo design. It's amazing stuff from start to finish, and, as with past Gulls releases, one comes away wanting more when it's over.

June 2012