Andrew Pekler | Sounds From Phantom Islands
Faitiche Records (LP/DL)
Contemporary exotica, yet another newly created term so that certain music could be stuck under a neatly fitted category. Supposedly, that is where Sounds From Phantom Islands, the new Andrew Pekler album should be categorized. Ok, maybe. Actually, if anybody could be named as a progenitor of this new genre it is Pekler. Take into consideration his previous explorations into blues and other genres that are considered ‘done and dusted’, or more specifically, his previous effort Tristes Tropiques (2016).
But creating something that is so specific, connected to previous genre(s) and at the same time, new and inventive, requires two things – absolute knowledge and mastery of the previous genre that is serving as a source, and a great sense and imagination.
Just based on the new album, Pekler has both. Creating something that re-imagines original sounds in the form of a “quasi-ethnographic catalog of music and synthetic field recordings,” as the blurb on the album’s Bandcamp page says, along with abundance of imagination takes also time and serious effort, and Pekler devoted quite a bit of both to come up with something so engaging as Sounds From Phantom Islands.
The pieces on the album were created based on recordings made for the interactive website Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas, something it took Pekler three years to create along with cultural anthropologist Stefanie Kiwi Menrath who was responsible for the online interactive map. Made up music that sounds realistic? Sure, after all, Phantom Islands appeared on historical maps, but actually never existed themselves. Figment of imagination based on a figment of imagination. “Ethnographic speculations,” as the release label calls them, and the description fits the album perfectly.
Pekler creates music (and sounds) that all may be imagined but sound both authentic and real, while still leaving enough space and includes (electronic) elements that leave room to the listener to do their own explorations, both through music and their thoughts. Quite an essential release.