Review: City Medicine – Argentine Dogs (Regional Bears, May 13)

Christopher Donaldson, whether he’s releasing music under his own name like the wonderful Rhythm Nation or as City Medicine, is an artist I cherish because his work always seems to make use of the cast-offs and unwanted extras of others’ projects, trivial detritus and garbage made beautiful again. With Donaldson, it’s less “one’s trash is another’s treasure” as it is “everyone’s trash is my treasure,” and in this regard he’s in top form on his short new cassette release for Regional Bears. Argentine Dogs is the Miami musician’s first release in nearly half a decade, presenting two eight-minute sides of discordant discharge, tactile gunk, and other bargain bin ephemera. “Without War” finds much of its duration occupied by a whirling tendril of tape noise, stretched and looped to the point of constant near-collapse, a single fuzzed-out tone blaring from a cracked speaker cone as the deck beneath it shakes itself apart. In the latter half of the track, other sounds and textures are pasted in, short snatches of conversation and dripping water and obscure improvisation, a palette that helps unify the two tracks as “Down a Hill” continues with more in this vein. Donaldson never does much processing on his sources other than the low fidelity inherent to his chosen medium, so most of their mystery originates in the way they are layered and sequenced; bee-swarm-drone between clatter segments like a too-taut stitch, abstract percussion loops loom over crowds of people, an erroneous hip-hop radio transmission unexpectedly forces through. Oh, to be an Argentine dog.

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