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Savath and Savalas - Golden Pollen

Released on ANTI Records, 6/19/07

The third album, Golden Pollen, by varied producer and musician Guillermo Scott Herren’s side project, Savath and Savalas, sounds little like its predecessors. It is his first attempt at a true solo release, one recorded over a period of months spent in isolation exploring various arrangements, instrumentation, and sonic layering. Herren, better known for his IDM/Glitch-Hop project Prefuse 73, certainly uses Golden Pollen as an exploration into his own understanding and implementation of music and composition.

It is an experimental approach to ambient, mid-tempo lounge sung entirely in Spanish and layered with Moog drones and acoustic plucking. This makes sense coming from an artist whose other projects involve working with computer programs and an extremely structured execution. IDM/Glitch-Hop is designed for people to dance to -- an unbreakable rhythm of steady patterns with even the chaotic “glitching” thrown in at measured moments. It is a cutting and pasting of ideas and break-beats that is far from the meandering sonic adventure of Golden Pollen.

Herren’s voice is smooth, soothing, and an almost constant presence throughout the recording. He is joined on select tracks by Tarantula A.D.'s Danny Bensi, Battles' Tyondai Braxton, Triosk drummer Laurence Pike, and singer/songwriter Mia Doi Todd, whose voice soars through the first track entitled “Intro”. It is apparent that Herren is showcasing the vocals from the very beginning; they are high in the mix and are one of the only hooks the listener can grasp onto.

But even they begin to blend into the background after a while. There is very little variance from track to track and they soon begin to melt into one long, chant-like mantra. The tempo never changes, each track wanders into the next joined by ambient noise and analog monotony, and by the time you get to track sixteen -- appropriately entitled “Outro” -- you feel a little cheated of 52 minutes of your own sweet time.

The music stumbles by sleepily and stealthily, leaving no trace of what is old and what is new. Any moments of beauty are quickly washed away by what seem like hour-long stretches of noise and instrumental clatter. Unfortunately, after a while, Golden Pollen begins to sound like a death march, trudging ever forward toward a cliff that refuses to show its murderous face. Not a good response to an album built to reflect upon “love, beauty and sentiment”.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars