Over the course of three releases now, Andrew Pekler has always seemed a little bit more about promise than follow-through. His Nocturnes, False Dawns And Breakdowns certainly had some moments of neat jazz deconstruction, but failed to hold as a whole, while his largely improvisational Strings And Feedback album was even less consistent, taking some interesting sounds by Morton Feldman and churning them into tonal and textural noodlings that didn't really go much of anywhere.
The premise for his fourth album Cue is another interesting one, as he has taken his inspiration for the release from old library music releases. If you've ever been to a thrift store, you've maybe seen these types of old records, with anonymous composers creating a wide variety of backing music for commercials and television that were usually sent out in only plain sleeves with little more than simple track descriptions to market them. The resulting eleven tracks and just under fifty minutes of music is different than anything Pekler has done before, and it finds him creating some of his best work to date.
As with the library music, Pekler has subtitled the tracks on Cue with descriptions of what they sound like. Opening track "On" (which is described as "driving piano-led theme w/uplifting feedback sweeps & coda) starts things off nicely as subdued hints of feedback groan under repeated piano notes and tom tom beat, along with multiple layers of fluttering electronics. As the track builds, he layers in more and more sounds, peaking with a section that's downright vibrant. "Steady State" (described as "repetitive bed for science/mystery, miniaturized percussion") is another standout, with clicky, subdued beats falling in behind quiet organ and all kinds of fluttering melodic electronics.
There are several shorter pieces on the release, and for the most part they don't hold up quite as well, falling into more loop-based repetition. Tracks like "Rockslide," though, show that Pekler has come a long way in the composition department, as the track moves from short loops of filtered guitar into something that's pretty darn close to mid-tempot instrumental pop, complete with playful squiggles of electronics and a smooth rhythm section that glides under all the movement on top. It's a fair amount different than his past work, largely because it sounds more upbeat in most places. There are still some moments that mis-fire, but if you've liked his past work, or enjoy the likes of Jan Jelinek and others doing similar work, Cue should be just your thing.