Compilations / Mixes
Though the self-titled debut album by Pearson Sound (aka Hessle Audio label co-head David Kennedy) might be pitched as “characteristically minimalist” in approach (and not inaccurately so), it's hardly uninvolving. An interesting concept guided Kennedy in his development of the album's nine tracks, which he recorded between 2013 and 2014, as illustrated by his own account of the processes involved in their creation: “A lot of it was made by feeding the same sounds between two different pieces of equipment, and they'd end up feeding back between each other and snowballing. On some tracks it's about harnessing that and taking it to the brink before it disintegrates, and some of them are about just letting it go full-blown out of control.”
Consistent with that statement, the material sounds in some cases as if Kennedy's both loosened the reins, so to speak, to let the machines battle it out amongst themselves, and elsewhere tightened them to keep a firm grip on the way the material unfolds. The tracks apparently emerged out of improvised jam sessions, with some completed using a minimum of takes and others finessed via detailed post-production. Yet while Pearson Sound might sound on paper like an experimental studio exercise, it's hardly unpolished or without substance.
As far as the balance between rhythm and melody is concerned, the balance mostly tips in percussion's favour, though melody still generally retains a presence of sorts in even the most stripped-down cut. On “Crank Call,” for instance, a woozy synth line acts as the glue holding together a series of disparate percussion-related elements, including claps, hi-hats, cymbals, tom-toms, and kick drums. Bright synth blasts likewise provide a fragile armature for the African-tinged percussive patterns running through “Six Congas,” while “Rubber Tree” ends the forty-three-minute album on a powerfully muscular note when blinding flurries of drum machine beats mix it up with clanging industrial noises and thunderous bass throbs.One of the most memorable pieces is definitely “Glass Eye,” which derives its motorik kick from a skeletal yet nevertheless punchy groove reminiscent of Kraftwerk's “Boing Boom Tschak.” An electro-funk workout it might be, but, like many another of the album's tracks, it gradually develops into something considerably more when Kennedy folds a haunting melodic hook into its lean framework.