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Pearson Sound Comes Knockin' with Self-Titled LP

04-18-2015 | By Michael Mercer | Issue 78

Pearson Sound

OK, straight outta the gate: Pearson Sound is not for everyone. Especially not all PF readers! If you're a fan of hard-hitting, percussively manic, and downright trippy intelligent electronic music—you should definitely give this LP a spin (or a click, whatever). However, if you're strictly a classical and jazz guy or gal—I don't think it would be fair to waste your time reading about this record. This is probably not your cup a' tea. Actually, who knows! But be forewarned: you're in store for some wicked sub-bass, seriously charged percussion that meanders around the whole soundstage, and some nasty electronic dance music bizness. That means there's a bit of everything here—from thumping analog drum-machine kicks, to swooping synth stabs and pads, not to mention some deep-down dirty tech house: made to blow-up the dance floor or keep you going through a rough day caught in the rat race. This is part of the soundtrack to our generation, and by "our generation" I mean my generation—Gen X. We came up during the evolution of underground electronic music culture. We were going to raves before you could purchase a ticket for such events at StubHub. We were lucky enough to experience the impact of underground electronic music on popular culture. Our raves were illegal. We had "map-points" and secret hotlines that would go live the Friday before the party on Saturday, providing directions, and, sometimes letting you know what to bring in order to be granted entry.

I remember we needed to bring a hard-boiled egg with us in order to get into the first S.T.O.P Rave in Brooklyn. The S.T.O.P events were under the Brooklyn-based S.U.N Network: the S.T.O.R.M Underground Network. S.T.O.R.M was as close as we were gonna get to the UK rave experience—which actually spawned a cultural revolution over there. No exaggeration. Acid house changed everything for them. This music has connected so many of us around the world. We're a global tribe, still going strong. Pearson Sound, to this ol' jaded raver, captures the essence of that movement, how our clothing styles, turntablism, and the sound helped shape many new genres of music. And it didn't stop there. Have you heard some of the popular hip-hop tracks today? Much of the beats are drum-n-bass, or tech house, sometimes even straight-up techno! At the heart of this is the beat. Whether it's a massive kick driving the beat, as is the case on a few tracks of this LP—or an electro melody driving the beat of a track, this music, and, here I'm speaking about Pearson Sound: this music (the quality stuff anyway) always has a sense of motion, a sway. It's infectious if done right, and Pearson did it right. The first time I heard "Asphalt Sparkle", with its eighties-style, Axel F-sounding synthesizer chords dropping over this insane low-end thump, I was hooked. Now, if that sounds crazy to you—I totally understand. But, for me, with the music I grew up on, it's like no BS ear-candy.

The velocity of the triggered sounds transient attack is impressive. Pearson Sound spent some time on most of these seemingly simple sound effects. It sounds like they spent hours messing with things like modulation and digital delays on most of the sounds. I know what that's like. I used to drive Alexandra (my wifey) crazy-loopy when I had my project studio at home—and I was working on sounds. She'd hear the same sound over and over again she'd always scream. I would also respond with something uber-geeky like "but it's not the same, I put it through this reverb and digital delay, it's got more a trail now". And, yeah, she'd say I was insane. But, that gave me a new-found appreciation for artists that put in all that extra work in order to play their music. Especially when you're working on electronic music. There are so many sound banks these days, and sometimes a few get very popular—and if an artist doesn't do something to change the sounds and make it their own, you hear the same damn sample in multiple tracks—and it's a serious turn-off. I mean, put something into your art you posers. Pearson Sound tracks are also varied, which is pretty fresh. Some of the tracks like "Rubber Tire" and "Gristle" don't even feel like they belong on the same album! But Pearson makes it work brilliantly. I love it. It's a splendid compilation of adventurous ambient compositions and, what I would consider experimental electronic music.

If I was tasked to pick a few movie soundtracks that remind me of Pearson Sound, one would have to be EDC - Electric Daisy Carnival Documentary, another would be the music from the epic movie The Matrix (none of the sequels - they all killed the magic of the first film, IMHO). The soundtrack to another documentary on the electronic music scene: Better Living Through Circuitry: A Digital Odyssey into the Electronic Dance Underground would also capture some of the roots of Pearson's music, and, I dare to guess, some of his influences. This fantastically diverse album of electronic grooves, klinks, bleeps, bops, thuds, and sweeps is, as I said above, pure ear-candy.

Highly recommended!

Rockin' this album via my MacBook Pro Retina SSD/Amarra Symphony rig intothe brand-new Burson Audio Conductor Virtuoso headphone amp/DAC and the new OPPO PM-3 portable/closed-back planar magnetic headphones has been a first-class sonic joyride too. I often prefer planars when it comes to music like this. There's often far more micro and macro-dynamic details than I ever expect from this music. Having the speed of the planar driver helps punctuate all those wondrous sounds lurking in the depths. The OPPOs did a helluva job here, as did the Burson! But the combo: G' DAMN...