In December, Manhattan-based ambient drone composer rr.gross released “The Feldmans go golfing, then Wrestling” on the Suspicious Sound label. Blending classical instrumentation, electronic beats, and TV samples, it’s surreal and vaguely foreboding.
First, some context. Founded by rr.gross, Suspicious Sound is one of the many netlabels that populate the Internet Archive. Virtual record labels of this type tend to be non-profit, offering free downloads and creative commons licensing for a radically accessible, community-driven ethos.
Couple that with the Web 1.0 anonymity of many netlabel artists, and the result is an enticing digital rabbit hole.
rr.gross wasn’t interested in being interviewed, and “The Feldmans” is similarly cryptic. As golf commentary echoes from right ear to left, delay turns the words incoherent, but the atmosphere–birds chirping, clubs swinging, and golf claps from the audience–remains perfectly legible. Defamiliarization serves as an interesting hook.
More traditionally musical elements filter in slowly, as the space of the track expands. Diffuse, screeching strings and twisting piano build a sense of dread, as do the low-res electronic drums that fall across the rift in the stereo field. An indistinct groove builds with the orchestration as the commentary fades out, then back in over time.
Fans of the electronic avant-garde and minimal music will find much to appreciate in rr.gross’ catalogue, but I may be personally biased. There’s comfort in the way “The Feldmans go golfing, then wrestling” sounds like my dreams after a few months work in TV captioning.