As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Bobb Bruno.
Comparing Bobb Bruno to just one artist can be quite limiting but if there’s a parallel to be drawn it would have to be to Jon Brion. This isn’t due to sound; on the contrary it’s a product of Bruno being just as in demand and hands on as his pop counterpart. Bobb Bruno, like Jon Brion, seems to have his fingerprints all over ‘outsider’ music whether it be through his own outlets (Goliath Bird Eater and Best Coast to name two) or jamming with a host of indie and DIY luminaries — often donning a weathered bunny suit for added ambience.
Dreamt On, Bruno’s latest EP through Vosotros, does happen to explore the poppy visions of his sizeable canon and the results are jaw-dropping. Many of Bruno’s fans gravitated toward his sound because of its intensity (the fuzzed throwback and thundering bass of Blood Venus) and its sensitivity (the soothing drones of Black Pentagon). Dreamt On follows another path: one of sparking synthesizers, dreamy melodies, and raucous pop. However, Bruno does abandon his so-called roots to produce six tracks of schmaltz, choosing to infuse his vision of bubblegum into his driving bass lines and nuanced drones.
Look no further than the EP’s lengthy middle, “Fairy Tale Ending.” Hyperactive piano twinkles and dreamy surf guitar run through a glorious loop, mimicking the sounds of a jazzed music box. Slowly the music box begins to melt in the midday sun, warping the fairy tale into a lump of sprockets and lost hope. The track eventually morphs into the dark counterpart of the first half — a calculating but equally rhythmic outburst of summer tunes on the softer side of “Black Hole Sun.” Much of Dreamt On recalls this theme of bouncy pop being invaded by dark side, both deciding to share the stage rather than fight the tired battle of light versus dark. The end product provides a wealth of breezy melodies mixing with dense backgrounds, giving summer evenings the same respect and happy endings as the orange-glo days of ice cream trucks, crowded beaches, and salty air.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.