Review: Pumpkin Friend – Checking Out of the Boredom Hotel (self-released, Sep 13)

My initial impression of Checking Out of the Boredom Hotel was that, at least at first, it kind of sounds like someone Salmon Run’ed the fuck out of that Disney haunted house album with the racist lady narrating each track. Central to the concise release is the mysterious Pumpkin Friend’s own poetry, drawn from a book produced in 2004 in a run of “just one copy.” More than a decade and a half later, perhaps finally roused by the stirring of this apocalyptic autumn, the Friend has returned to these words with plenty of bizarre sonic accompaniments in mind, many of which are sourced from free Creative Commons sound archives, giving the album a pleasing and slightly unsettling amateurish feel. Our Friend describes their poems as “experimental,” an evaluation with which I’m not sure I’d concur, but they are certainly hilarious, especially “The Soda Factory: Room 08,” its outlandish narrative relayed with a level of engagement just a hair above complete apathy. Further fleshing out the strange world of the Boredom Hotel are sighs, snores, gasps, bubbles, clacking keyboards, spooky synths, ticking clocks, and countless other ornaments incorporated with varying levels of abstractness. This little 12-track suite is short, but is also a satisfyingly wild ride. Still not really sure whether it actually happened or not.