Maxmillion Dunbar Maxmillion DunbarCool Water
Seeing as Andrew Field-Pickering refers to himself as a freak and has no problem presenting himself to the world as an eccentric with potential mental imbalances, please allow me to point him out as such as well (meant with all the affection in the world). The reason is simple, “Cool Water” could only have come from a mind that works according to rules everyday people don’t understand, and it’s like that because none of his musical productions to date can be measured according to standards of order, rationality and coherence. When he was a member of the Food For Animals duo, his rap could only be considered as nerdy, and with it’s anti-street cred, the joke came closer to crossing Anticon with “Porky’s” than one would normally venture. In the case of Beautiful Swimmers –alongside Ari Goldman– his thing was mature disco music, but with a sense of humour that wouldn’t sit very well with the documented and reverential project of labels like Environ –in spite of their shared passion for crate diggin’. So where in the sonic spectrum would Maxmillion Dunbar fit? After two EPs and a 7” in the last two years, Max D appeared to be the infantile alter ego of Andrew. Infantile in the sense that it’s a canalisation of a set of vague memories, half unearthed, with misty vision because of the difficulty of polishing memories. It is, in short, his little hypnagogia project.
The H-word seems to be used so much that you would say it had lost all meaning, but if you listen closely to the material of “Cool Water”, more connections will appear. It’s true that Field-Pickering is an obsessive data and item collector, that his record collection is huge and that he has purged it so that only the best would stay on the shelves. He likes the retro stuff, apart from the urban, and he has slid towards that golden age that was the early eighties in a natural way. He gets there because it was the first age of New York hip-hop –imagine a boy from the town near Baltimore, fascinated by the tracksuits, caps, breakdance and ghetto-blasters on TV and, later, in the parks–, but in those days hip-hop was a mish mash in which there was still disco, funk and electro. In the same way as one lets oneself go with the flow of the coarse rhymes of those days, the synthesisers and rhythm boxes take it to electro, and from electro to any kind of electronic music that could enter your house via the radio, colour television or video –for example, the soundtrack of “Risky Business”, with Tom Cruise calling the prostitutes by phone. And that’s the key, the soft, synthesised, kraut-inspired sickly sweet ambient-directed mantra. From “Pretty Please”, the opening which is a kind of comatose disco music, with echoes, almost flat claps and a lot of groovy, long, atmospheric keystrokes, it’s clear that “Cool Water” is sounds a lot like the hybrid of breaks, sensual vocals and steamy textures of those cheap pedal-driven keyboard of the time. That vintage post-Klaus Schulze brew, recreated half from memory, is what connects Maxmillion Dunbar with a music scene distorted by rheum and tears, revisited through a prism of an imperfect memory.
So he has to be categorised close to Com Truise, VHS Head and Tropics –and in a way also to Games, although with Maxmillion Dunbar there is no preoccupation with the AOR song form: his stylisation of computer disco towards ambient is flirting more, and openly, with new age. Beyond “Pretty Please”, which could erroneously be labelled as Balearic disco, Max D goes all out with super slow beats, sometimes porous and sometimes almost non-existent, so much so that he substitutes the feeling of constant rhythm with arpeggios and notes resembling beach waves ( “Way Down”, “Girls Dream”). As the track moves on, the danceable pulse on the horizon gets fainter more and more, giving way to attempts at ethnic exploration ( “Original Sountrack Flutes”, which has an ocarina and Amazonic humidity, or “Rhythm Track For Rashied Ali”, which, although it ends like a synthesiser jam by Wendy Carlos, starts with what sounds like bird samples taken from a Deep Forest record) or ambient-house ( “Lemon & Lime” sounds like a collage of TV skits and documentary music with touches of 8080 State and Jean-Michel Jarre). It is, concluding, a freaky album, because he doesn’t even take the hypnagogic inclination seriously and he doesn’t seem to try to go deep, to make his scribbled memories of a lost childhood sound like a discovery. In any way, it’s that chaotic carelessness that adds charm to this record, made by a freak for freaks. But not just any freak. A freak with a heart.
Maxmillion Dunbar - Girls Dream
Maxmillion Dunbar - Lemon And Lime