Review: The All Golden – Harmonograph (Modern Aviation, Oct 24)

I don’t really consider myself to be a ‘visual person,’ but I can’t deny the fact that album covers heavily influence which music I try out. I realize I probably miss out on some great releases with terrible covers, but hey, I have to whittle down this never-ending barrage of new music somehow. I had no idea what kind of music I would find on Harmonograph when I saved it, but I knew I had to because the artwork (done by Sarah Batchelor) is beyond gorgeous. Thankfully, so are the songs. The multi-instrumentalist Pete Gofton performs here as The All Golden, and uses the tape as a kind of musical sketchbook; each track is a small vignette of various permutations of guitar, electronics, and field recordings. I’m unfamiliar with Gofton’s other music, but he certainly has a great ear for both melody and texture, stuffing just the right amount of each into the songs. It’s difficult to make and develop interesting compositions when the tracks fly by this fast, but each ends up holding its own amidst the flood: “Big Wednesday” braids cloying synth grit with an electronic drum loop, “Sevdah” uses simple rhythms as a springboard for constructing sunny ambience, “Harmonograph” keeps it simple with magnetic, stomping fingerpicked acoustic guitar. I do think that Harmonograph would be much stronger if there was less use of the drum machine, but the rest is well-constructed and pretty as hell. It just takes a little over twenty minutes to listen, so check it out!