Cage & Aviary, Beat N Path

[Tiny Sticks Records]

Buy Vinyl

If “Giorgio Carpenter” and “Television Train” told us anything about Cage & Aviary, it’s that Jamie Paton and Nigel Hoyle are good listeners. Heavily referential, both tracks relied on in one sense — and racked up in another — some serious musical credit, while somehow managing to skip the bill when it came time to pay the price for the goods. There’s something cool as cucumber about their synthetic style and the slow developmental arc of their tracks. They take ample time to celebrate their collective and contrasting influences (i.e. disco, Italo, post-punk, white-boy funk, indie rock, new wave, all the way up to early Chicago and acid house) without sounding derivative, predictable, or feeling the need to rush headlong into blatantly new territory.

Since we last checked in with C&A, the duo has been slyly making all the right moves. Using a combination of Dissident cred and DFA exposure, they’ve been slowly building their case through featured podcasts (e.g. on Allez Allez, Anthem, DJ History, and Dummy), an unfolding six-part self-solicited remix series on their own The Walls Have Ears label, and releases on Astro Lab and Tiny Sticks. Their most recent flight of fancy, Beat N Path, finds them on top of their form, while breezily turning another corner towards a more succinct house sound.

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The A-side version of the title track seems to embody several aspects of the duo’s preferred musical continuum: the decade long post-Comiskey club music cluster-fuck called the 1980s. Beginning with some shoe-gazed funk guitar, the track nonchalantly whistles its way into a comfortable, if jaded, groove that willfully ambles along into an acid-washed breakdown. Things get a bit weird for a minute or two but come back around in time and without too much scandal. The cycle repeats as if to show how matter-of-factly one could walk back and forth twice from opposite corners of the Paradise Garage in under eight minutes. “Low Noise” strikes a semi-anguished robo-tone that quietly broods along the alleys of your mind, until some perky percussion lifts the computer blue mood into a stuttering semi-clear resolution. For all that, the restricted economy of its pace and arrangement make it a bit of a rough diamond that probably won’t catch as many ears as it should.

The exact opposite holds for Brennan Green’s flipside remix of the title track. Banging the original up a few notches (and bpms), Green wastes no time taking full advantage of his 303 in developing the track’s acidic elements. Flat like the makeshift plywood walls at a warehouse party, the track remains structurally consistent — only once dangling Hoyle’s whimsical hook over the dance floor — but is made up of millions of tiny variations. It sounds like an obvious tipping point to the night: you realize you’re either having the time of your life or you’re moments away from losing it completely. Could be the same thing, really. As the title suggests, looking for an obvious progressive bend to this release misses the point entirely. It’s often easy to become fixated with the emergence or perfection of a certain genre in a certain year in a certain place — and there is the temptation to look for similarly fortuitous circumstances on the horizon — but if anything, Cage & Aviary suggest it can be just as interesting reading at length between the genre lines.

ryan  on April 13, 2010 at 11:09 AM

good tune

Andy Clapper  on August 20, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Completely missed this connection on my first listen to the Anxious Acid Version…


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