NEW AGE MUSIC makes me wanna bust fools' grills with a tire iron. All that airy fairyness and "dreamy" ambience adds up to nothing more than yuppy-hippie mating music. But sometimes new age ducks through the backdoor, hat pulled low over its eyes, and infiltrates good music. (Listen to most post-rock and tell me there's not a little Neverending Story soundtrack in there.) And now there's local guy James Squeaky's new project, Argumentix, which samples new age records and turns them into thick, growling, spacey stuff that's closer to Black Dice than anything you'd hear in a gem shop in Sedona, Arizona.
Squeaky says the source material for songs like "Lend Me a Blanket" off his debut CD, Hoarse Whisperer, came from "a new age meditation tape that I found that is supposed to help you quit smoking or something. I added some samples of waves and seagulls to make it even more tranquil and then slowed it all down."
It's trippy stuff—vocals half spoken, half crooned; the new age etherealities bubbling below the surface are soothing, but there's a shit-ton of brain-sizzling napalm amid the tranquility.
Still, Hoarse Whisperer is a lot more than just new age remixes. Says Squeaky, "A lot of it comes from beats that I created either on my laptop, with my drum machine or by putting a contact mic on a cymbal and processing it through delay. And then everything is slowed down to give that drugged-out delay effect. Other things come from found tapes or field recording samples."
In past bands, Squeaky has done everything from confrontational avant-hardcore to balls-out freak noise, but this, he says, is where he wants to be right now. "The main idea of Argumentix is to take all of the ideas and things I've learned from my other bands and combine my favorite ideas... the vocal acrobatics of Alarmist, the no rules/nothing sacred approach of Sex with Girls, and the drugged out improvised vibe of Space Hawk. I also want to balance composition and improvisation. My current live set is about half and half and that's where I would like to keep it."