. issue XXII : ii .

by barathron

. artist : cave art .
. album : piña colada .
. year : 2013 .
. label : lom .
. grade : off the charts .

Eclectic duo Ondřej Merta and Václav Peloušek are known for this scatterbrained, relentless, uncompromising art of the future — characterized by genius, levity, and multitasking. On Eastern European avant label Lom, whose biography says, with candid candor, “We publish all kinds of stuff.” Indeed, everything about Piña Colada is utterly refreshing.

The album consists of seven studio-produced tracks and three tracks of live improvisation, but intertwines the two (very different) sensibilities (one utterly pristine, crystalline with poise, one wretched, raw and yawping with braying guitar and senselessly scatting vocals) by presenting a four-track set that reworks a single song: first, live; second, live and “faster;” third, in the studio; fourth, polished in the studio. Everything about this album is a meta-level accomplishment, but this is its crowning achievement: music ceases to be understood as product and becomes understood as produced, and to place value judgments on any stage of the process is to unravel the new insight instantiated in every incarnation of the piece. By reincarnating the original impulse again and again, an impulse individuates into one of its potential selves. Cave Art — at least, their press release — claim to be “post-music,” and if the four-track re-re-re-visitation helps one to see what “post-music” might mean apophatically, rest assured that its positive, the “music” in “post-music,” is striking.

The same press release also cries “weird pop,” and this is certainly true. For all the avant in Piña Colada, it’s indubitably a pop music: appetitive and catching. The feat is even more impressive because of Cave Art’s strange but spot-on sensibilities by which they disrupt all norms but being them back together, resolving any tension they create with deft treatments. The compositions are masterful marinades, seemingly as directionless but channeled as a lazy river at a bleepy blippy theme park where every attendee holds a tuning fork as the spool of their tempest-tossed kite. The balance between meta movement(s) and short-term tuneful evolution is flawless, and the compellingly-executed novelty of these pieces drowses the listener into not noticing either.

by Brittany Tracy