So here’s the thing- I like music that’s a little confounding. A little difficult- I like music that’s cross-genre, that lands and seeps. Which drips onto Lee Gamble’s latest album, Mnestic Pressure. Meaning a pressure of memory, the title has me going in thinking of a kind of cerebral discomfort. But more on that later.
Any elecro-fan (or Berliner) will tell you there’s an intelligence to electronic music. A good dance track will thump and pulse with an awareness of the body. There will be, for example, a kind of underlying heartbeat that will carry throughout its lifespan, giving one a hot, auditory shot of stamina. And then there’s the quieter, listen-in-your-room-all-alone kind of electronic, which is where I put Gamble’s latest release. When done right, these function as a kind of conversation, or like reading a book whose font changes color and twirls along the page in accordance to one’s mood.
And like a conversation, Gamble’s music takes exertion. It gets you into some rhythm and then the topic changes – you find yourself out of your comfort zone. The music goes silent, and the silence is resonant. Then the sound is back and you missed the silence; the noise has gotten harsher and the atonality makes you nervous.
Or maybe the music is talking to itself and you’re just listening in, witnessing something out of your jurisdiction. You sense a narrative but you don’t know the whole story, and right when you begin to grasp it, the direction shifts. It moves about itself with emotion. A track like Ignition ‘Lockoff’ starts with gusto and then falters, becomes pensive. Within the space of non-space, it travels back and forth, like a statement and reply, like two know-it-alls talking with immediate answers. Or leading one another down a dark place of repressive memory they weren’t expecting.
Mnestic Pressure is a really intelligent example of music that works through and against itself, taking the listener down something complicated. That only lets you feel one way for so long, but not too long; Gamble is DJing the listener outside of space and time. You might not be dancing but your body will react, and not always comfortably. Look, sometimes music is easy. Sometimes music is muzak. This isn’t either, and it works.