Daniel Givens


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Daniel Givens' first record is an ambitious one, for sure. It's almost 70 minutes of freeform travel, as interpreted by this Chicago DJ and a group of severely talented musicians. There's no singular form that is embraced over the course of this record. No singular rhythm -- only a mixture of spoken word, wavering drums, clipped and out-of-focus dub, free jazz, electro-robot funk, and countless others. Words phase in and out, disembodied vocals float, the tempo jumps forward, then shambles behind. Drones waver inconsistently and then delve further into different planes -- occasionally gelling into an organic/electric freakout on tracks like "Rotation" (greatly aided by Seth Hitsky's vocal work). This is certainly not an easy listen, as the record tries to confront the listener as often as it tries to appease. The mournful cello work from Fred Lonberg-Holm on "Eclipse" makes for one of the more interesting tracks, as a sonorous drone is pitted against stuttering beats and piano echoes. It's one of the finer tracks and a beautiful mix. One of the other well-executed tracks is "No Visible Color," where whispering, creaking vocals build and build -- drums are snapped and pulled back, then kicked back into shape as an upright bass pulls the whole piece together. The most ambitious track is "Acknowledgment," an 18-minute piece that utilizes Jeff Parker (Tortoise) underneath some wild drumming and reverberating effects. Heavy with flutes and broken funk beats that seem to dip into some of Miles Davis' On the Corner LP, it tries hard to keep you interested in the sonics, but ultimately that task proves a bit too heady. With the nature of ambition, there are bound to be moments that might not work as well as hoped. Givens finds this out most certainly, but he pushes and tries and demands -- and he might find his way very soon.

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