John T Gast – Excerpts
- Mark Keane
- 10 March 2015
Experimental electronics, both focused and scatty
John T Gast’s shapeshifting, chimera of an album is both engaging and quixotic, focused and scatty, inviting and unsettling. It’s very much its own feral beast, moving from heavyset drone to dub techno to psyche-y kosmische to outer limits experimentalism with a keen sense of free will. It’s this willingness to go foraging in strange unlit corners of electronic music with abandon that gives the album its appeal: it takes unexpected twists and turns, not always successful, but these deviations have their own sense of mystery. You are very much down the rabbit hole here.
So while the joys of beat-driven numbers such as the slowly unfurling techno track ‘Congress’ with its majestic, shimmering, gauzy synth figures and the krauty dub dirge of ‘Infection’ are pretty immediate, the record uses that early goodwill to lure you into other places far off the spectrum, places that are more about mood than movement. The album is broken up by forays into off-kilter ambient; lysergic curios like the funereal chamber-drone ‘Green’ and the half-formed ‘White Noise/Dys’ which simply changes shape mid-stream, making you wonder if this is the same record you put on to begin with. It makes for a strange, jarring listen, pulling you into different areas of the sonic cosmos before a rhythmic jolt reappears to plonk you back on – relative – terra firma.
Gast is a collaborator with Inga Copeland and Dean Blunt, formerly of Hype Williams fame, so these kinds of deliberate metamorphoses are to be expected. When you think you have a grip on this record, it flits away with a maddening capriciousness. And just when you begin bed down in the weirdo, hazy ambient next-world, it shifts tone again. But it has something that other records don’t, a real sense of the unknown, the unforeseen, and the unreal, and this doesn’t diminish with repeated listens.