Last year was a pretty disappointing time for electronic music. Prefuse 73 and Daedelus both traded in their unique sounds for watered-down guest spots and forgettable singles. Four Tet gave the finger to “folktronica” and upped the Sun Ra, to pleasant, yet mixed, results. And don’t even get me started on that Chemical Brothers album. Yet, 2006 holds hope for those in need of some good glitch, starting off the year with a stunning self-titled release by Pedro. But hold on there, cowboy. You think this is a new album? It ain’t. In fact, it’s nigh three years old. But considering how it went unnoticed for some time, it’s a good thing Mush Records reissued it, complete with a bonus disc of remixes, because this isn’t the kind of record you want to miss out on.
Pedro, musically, leaps between styles, sounding like the folky cut-and-paste of the Books and Four Tet one moment, hazy Boards of Canada-style IDM the next. Any other information other than what’s on the album, however, is practically impossible to find. He has a brief Allmusic profile, a smattering of reviews here and there, and a website under construction, but any search on Amazon or Insound reveals hundreds of artists named “Pedro,” including the Lion. But thanks to a onesheet, practically my only reliable source of info for this mysterious artist, I can tell you that his name is actually James Rutledge, not actually Pedro, and his imaginative style of electronic sample-layering has earned him praise from the likes of Thom Yorke, Dangermouse and Kevin Shields—not bad for a newbie!
Listening to this reissue, it’s not at all hard to understand how Rutledge has won over so many high profile fans. His heady blend of dark, psychedelic and jazzy sounds make for a wonderful and exotic listen. After “Intro,” a deceptively quiet and meditative piano piece, “Fear & Resilience” starts up, a stunning combination of Hood’s rainy glitch-pop and DJ Shadow’s Technics symphonies. With brief stops for off-beat samples and occasional percussive breaks, the song layers ambient strings, stuttering violin and mid-tempo beats to yield an outstanding electro masterpiece. “Dead Grass” takes the ideas presented in the first two tracks and combines them, beginning with quiet piano plinks and transitioning into symphonic trip-hop.
“These Pixels Weave a Person” melds Far Eastern sounds with bouncy computer beats and church organ, while “The Water Ran This Way Back and Forth” utilizes a folky Books-like structure. After a pair of Krautrock-influenced tracks, “Seven Eight” explodes from the ether, kaleidoscopic and joyous, both organic and synthetic. Though the album has only seven tracks sandwiched between an “intro” and an “outro,” each one has its own personality and all of them are shining examples of how electronic music should sound in 2006. Call it a testament to Pedro’s forward thinking prowess, however, as this is how his music sounded in 2003.
Four Tet – Rounds
Boards of Canada – Geogaddi
DJ Shadow – Pre-emptive Strike