August 24, 2010

Review: Sam Prekop | Old Punch Card [MP3]

Sam Prekop -- Old Punch CardIndie pop veteran Sam Prekop is not known for throwing curveballs (figuratively, anyway -- we have no knowledge of his pitching proclivities). His has been a two-decade career marked by consistency; fortunately for the guitarist and singer and his fans, what Mr. Prekop delivers consistently is gorgeous, mannered indie rock and indie pop. Sure, The Sea And Cake -- which Prekop has fronted since about 1994, following the dissolution of Shrimp Boat -- went through its excellent electropop phase in the mid'90s. And, sure, Prekop's eponymous solo debut produced amazing chamber pop such as the piano-led "A Cloud To The Back." But little of this (beyond, as Prekop helpfully reminds us in the press materials, the opening salvo of The Sea And Cake's 2002 cover of Bowie's "Sound And Vision") has prepared listeners for Old Punch Card, Prekop's third solo set.

"The most significant difference, is that I've left the confines of 'song' structure," he states here. Old Punch Card commences with its title track, whose first two minutes comprise an electrical cacaphony that (dis-)orients listeners to Prekop's new sonic realm. Thereafter Prekop's true blue melodic sense offers its warm -- albeit here bleepy -- embrace. Indeed, the deeper one gets into Old Punch Card, the more melodic it becomes. The often skeletal collection -- released five years after Prekop's sophomore solo effort and 11 years after his first -- is devoid of vocals and percussion and contains only one guitar track. Indeed, Prekop has composed nearly exclusively on modular synthesizers an incredibly engaging collection of electronic music/musique concrete that nods affirmatively in the direction of pioneering composer Raymond Scott, Keith Fullerton Whitman's Multiples [review] and even Moikai rarity Nuno Canavarro. Small electronic arpeggios undulate throughout "A Places," breaking through crashing waves of white noise that pound and then recede into space before the song's stirring, elegiac close. Prekop's characteristic restraint is also evident, as his compositions -- particularly the spartan "November September" and "Array Wicket" -- use few elements that hum along within tidy curtains of nearly palpable reverb.

Finally, Old Punch Card is as much about texture, something attributed to his recording the collection entirely in his home studio while wearing headphones. Prekop, who recorded these songs at various times between February 2009 and March of this year, will finally be getting out of the house: the composer will spend Sept. 13 through Oct. 19 touring with The Sea And Cake alongside indie titans Broken Social Scene. We're posting the complete tour dates below. Thrill Jockey Records issues Old Punch Card Sept. 7

Sam Prekop -- "The Silhouettes" -- Old Punch Card
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[pre-order Old Punch Card from Thrill Jockey right here]

Sam Prekop: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

09.13 -- Washington, DC -- Warner Theatre
09.14 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Theater of Living Arts
09.17 -- Boston, MA -- House of Blues
09.18 -- New York, NY -- Rumsey Playfield
09.20 -- New Haven, CT -- Toads Place
09.21 -- Northampton, MA -- Calvin Theatre
09.22 -- South Burlington, VT -- Higher Ground
09.24 -- Ithaca, NY -- Historic Ithaca State Theatre
09.25 -- Buffalo, NY -- Town Ballroom
10.02 -- Chicago, IL -- Riviera Theatre
10.03 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Pabst Theatre
10.04 -- Minneapolis, MN -- First Avenue
10.06 -- Winnipeg, MB -- Burton Cummings Theatre
10.07 -- Saskatoon, SK -- The Odeon Events Centre
10.08 -- Calgary, AB -- Macewan Hall
10.09 -- Edmonton, AB -- Winspear Centre
10.10 -- Kelowna, BC -- Kelowna Community Theatre
10.12 -- Victoria, BC -- Element Nightclub
10.13 -- Vancouver, BC -- Commodore Ballroom
10.14 -- Vancouver, BC -- Commodore Ballroom
10.15 -- Seattle, WA -- Paramount Ballroom
10.16 -- Portland, OR -- Crystal Ballroom
10.17 -- San Francisco, CA -- Treasure Islands Music Festival
10.19 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Wiltern Theatre

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