Release Date: Jul 24, 2012
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Avant-Garde
Portland, Oregon drone duo Golden Retriever are part of the 2010s' wave of instrumental experimental drone that expands on some of the forms visited in the noise and post-rock scenes a decade before it, the icy electronic soundtrack music of the '80s, and the cosmic synth wandering of '70s Krautrock. The pantheon of blissed-out droners that Golden Retriever belong to is vast, with like-minded artists such as White Rainbow, Infinite Body, Emeralds, Dolphins into the Future, and many others all taking different approaches at meditative washy music, usually in the form of extended pieces. At first blush, Golden Retriever aren't too different from their peers, but they create something removed from the usually guitar-derived sounds of their contemporaries through their uncommon instrumentation of Matt Carlson's analog modular synthesizer and Jonathan Sielaff's bass clarinet.
One of the most perplexing instrumental pieces I’ve ever heard comes at the end of the Frank Zappa’s three-disc guitar compilation, pointedly named Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar. The song, “Canard du Jour”, is a duet between Zappa on bouzouki and jazz fusion maestro Jean-Luc Ponty on violin. Knowing that all of the songs were meant to show some mastery of the guitar in a unique way, I paid very close attention to “Canard du Jour” during the first listen.
Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff both possess that rare ability to create experimental music that manages to come off as painless and graceful. Turning composite structures and shapeless arrangements into lovely compositions with their respective groups (Parenthetical Girls and Au), the duo attempt to add a bit of grime with their Golden Retriever project. With their second full-length (following a slew of CD-R releases), Occupied with the Unspoken, Carlson and Sielaff craft instrumental pieces using an analogue modular synthesizer and a bass clarinet ? instruments only designed to produce a single note at a time.