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File under: DroneExperimental

Bitchin Bajas

Bitchin Bajas (2LP)

Label: Drag City

Format: 2LP

Genre: Electronic

Out of stock

Bitchin Bajas' second, self-titled album finds the experimental trio blending musicial personalities of the past to create their own sonic identity. There are no forced attempts at edginess, even though their simple techniques keep the music loose and live-sounding.

2LP, Includes printed inner sleeve. 'The line between homage and mimicry is so blurry that it sometimes doesn’t even exist. But is it possible to arrive at homage by jumping over the divide, and diving into the deep end of mimicry? It sounds like Bitchin Bajas are testing that theory on their self-titled double tape. Band founder Cooper Crain hasn’t been shy about his influences, citing 20th century minimalists such as Terry Riley as guiding lights. But this time around, the antecedents are clearer than ever. The aforementioned forefathers and a bunch of others (try German drifters like Cluster and Popul Vuh) pop up all over Bitchin Bajas—and since there are only eight tracks spread across the album’s 77 minutes, they get lots of space to reveal themselves.

Even though there's lots of references to be heard on Bitchin Bajas, very little of this record sounds plagiaristic. It's almost like listening to the thought processes of Crain and bandmates Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye, rather than what they think goes on in their heroes' minds. They manage this not despite their influences, but because of them; there are no gratuitous divergences, no forced curveballs to prove the trio aren’t stealing. Their blending of past musical personalities creates a new one, much the way a thoughtful cover can change your view of the original. Bitchin Bajas journey so far into their inspirations that they find something of their own inside.

Bitchin Bajas is largely comprised of long journeys. 18-minute opener “Tilang” could exist as a single release on its own, progressing from mournful Stars of the Lid-like strings to rippling organs, whistling flutes, and harp-like glissandos. The way those sounds fold into each other recurs throughout the album, as the trio devise methods to make many voices (woodwinds, synths, xylophones) sing the same tune. The constant cross-dissolving can occasionally sound generic: “Field Study” opens with clichéd field recordings of water bubbling, birds chirping, and insects creaking. But even that piece resolves into something unique, as subtle beats make the music more about psychic relaxation than nature worship.

Relaxation may seem an unambitious musical goal, but Bitchin Bajas are proud to chase it. Crain said last year that “making music that is relaxing and comforting to us is important,” and the band even made a separate cassette version of Bitchin Bajas dubbed Relaxation Mixes that eliminates what they call “the intense peaks.” So naturally there’s little abandon on these two LPs; the trio only sound like they're losing control during the overlapping synth squiggles of the 12-minute “Bueu”.

But Bitchin Bajas' relaxation plan works because they’re committed to it. There are no forced attempts at edginess, even though their simple techniques keep the music loose and live-sounding. This purist approach puts them in the company of other recent post-new age wanderers—bands like Emeralds and Mountains, who are best when they sound most committed to their laid-back causes. For all their reverence toward the past, Bitchin Bajas know how to live in the present – there’s no knowing distance here—so at its best, Bitchin Bajas doesn’t give you ideas about sounds, but the sounds themselves.' - Pitchfork

File under: DroneExperimental
Cat. number: DC592CS
Year: 2014

Includes printed inner sleeve.