Pamela Z: Echolocation (Z Music, 1988/reissue Freedom to Spend, 2021)

January 6, 2022 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pamela Z: Echolocation

Composer and performance artist Pamela Z has been a mainstay of the American avant-garde scene for decades, yet her discography of solo releases is startlingly scant. Her first album in nearly two decades, A Secret Code, appeared last year, followed by a long-overdue vinyl/digital reissue of her debut cassette, Echolocation. Using loops, overdubs, and some synths/drum machines, she constructs vast, spacious, ever-shifting sound worlds which express a lot with a limited number of elements. There’s driving minimalist new wave (“Two Black Rubber Raincoats”) as well as strangely affecting operatic Dada (“Badagada”), as well as a mind-melting a cappella piece layering fragmented loops, whispers, and a direct monologue (“Pop Titles “You””). “In the Other World” also loops the slap of a tape reversing or unpausing, and pairs it with more spoken lines describing the alternate reality the piece seems to come from. Pamela’s debut is accessible without being anywhere close to normal or predictable, and well deserving of rediscovery.

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