“As with rocks at low tide, a mixed surface is revealed, / More detritus.”– John Ashbery, A Wave, 1983 1Samplers are shredding machines. They shred sounds, replacing them with an impenetrability unequaled in vividness and circumstantiality. Or they Photoshop them. Type in a password and hear the sound of that password tapped out on your fingers: smooth, precise, frolicsome, full of genius.
Reflecting his involvement in Baltimore's experimental club music scene, Co La's Matthew Papich brings a confrontational energy to No No, his most pointed set of tracks yet. As he combines his hometown's distinctive club music and his fascination with media overload, No No finds Papich's blend of electronics and found sound samples growing crisper and more fragmented; this trend started on Moody Coup, but here Papich hones his palette even further and uses it with the intensity of a musical Jackson Pollock. The way that sounds are spattered, sliced, and smeared across these tracks, it's fitting that so many of their titles are verbs.
Sampling isn't a lost art form just yet, but it's fair to call it a diminished one. This has happened even as the sample itself remains a staple of modern music production: how Young Chop has access to an orchestra, how every bedroom producer from Los Angeles to Berlin owns an 808. Those sounds are meticulously recorded and integrated into popular software.
Baltimore's Matt Papich has called his musical style "New Anything," and he's spent several years trying to live up to the description. Daydream Repeater repurposed canonical pop in relatively straight loop tracks. 2013's Moody Coup was more sophisticated, its dub-pop collages sometimes hitting a poignant note. On No No, Papich's skills are yet more developed, but it's as if he's overshot the mark.
There is a strong case to be made for difficult music, those albums that only reveal themselves after repeated listening, but there isn't always a reward; sometimes, those albums never seem to bloom, and it can be truly tiring. Co La's No No falls somewhere in between. Armed with a military drum beat and stuttering sample, lead single "Suffering (Tuesday)" hits the mark, undergoing a glamorous transformation after the first minute when a male voice says plainly: "Suffering.