Album Appreciation: Scroll by Badge Epoch

I have been sitting here for a while now… listening to this double album… four sides of music respectively separated into four sonic cycles. During that time I have been faced with more questions than answers as to how I want to share my thoughts on this remarkable ninety minutes. I was trying to look for themes… for codas… for something to basically hold onto. After some time I came to the point that, actually, there is not really anything that you can fundamentally grab onto here. There’s no story arc… no real progression… and no discernible common theme…

Then I kinda felt stupid…

Because what is the title of this blog? What do I say that I like to do when out wandering around the real world? Yep, that’s it… “I really got into the whole idea of wandering around aimlessly, being part of my surroundings but at the same time somewhat removed.” That, dear reader, is a quote from my ’about’ page… and that, it seems to me, is what this collection of fragments is all about… and that, actually that, is why I like it so much.

Right, now I have got that out of the way let’s crack on… this epic undertaking is from the mind of Toronto’s Max Turnbull: also know as ‘Slim Twig’, a contributor to ’US Girls’, and leader of the ‘Badge Epoque Ensemble’. It is, what he refers to as something of a “journal album”… the consequence of ideas that he has had over a period of nearly a decade, which have then been stuck in a creative mixer… the results of which are on display here. From this point of view it feels more like a papier-maché model created from a journal with the original pieces on view, yet somehow fused together.

Even then the model itself is a somewhat abstract one… more of a topography than something discernibly object-like… in this sense there is a flow to it, but it is somehow a flow between fast changing landscapes which are to be transversed for their own sake rather than having and obvious destination (and for clarity I consider this to be a good thing).

Because of this I do not propose to go through every one of the twenty tracks here, as would be my normal process, but reflect on how I feel when listening to it… and on reflection after getting to the end… and I have to say that, straight-off, once I had made my obvious realisations of how to approach this record… my ability to engage with it was greatly enhanced. As such it feels like music to be with for whatever moment you are in, or rather few a series of moments.

So while this is bringing together ideas which have been left to germinate over time to the listener, well to this listener at least, they feel like a series of discreet moments… moments which continue to surprise and astound over multiple listens. At times the music is abstract and experimental (‘Dark Gardening’), while at others it is funky… Funkadelic funky… (‘Galactic Whip’) then just when you think you are getting a handle on things something like ’Fruit Cocktail’ is thrown in which, for me, is very coherent but almost impossible to place. Then you get the likes of ’Partition’ which is jazzy and panoramic… I could go on but essentially each one of these twenty tracks brings something very different to the mix.

So while, as is often the case with the sort of music I like to write about… I use genre to give you an idea of what is on offer… this does not really suffice when summarising the overall experience of this album… and an experience it what it certainly is. So if you are one of those who can only listen to one type of music this set is certainly not for you. If, however, like me you like the unexpected and to go with the flow then you are probably going to find yourself chilling, dancing, thinking and just generally being astounded at the variety on show here. Great stuff!

‘Scroll’ is released on Telephone Explosion and available here.



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