Tue November 5, 2013
ADM: A Delicate Motor
I have a very love-hate relationship with technology. On one hand, it is an amazing tool that has revolutionized how we view the world and each other. It has allowed us to create amazing new things and paved the way for new inventions that can make the world a better, safer and healthier place.
However, it is so dreadfully easy to become dependent upon it that, when it fails, we can find ourselves virtually crippled and sitting in the dark, waiting for the lights to come back on.
Developments in lasers and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy have allowed Art Historians to see and analyze micro-thin layers of paint in a work by Leonardo Da Vinci. And though, individually, these layers are thinner than a human hair, without a single one, the entire work of art would be diminished. On the other hand, it is enticing to get so focused on the minute details and hyper-analyze what it all means, that one might forget to just take a step back and appreciate the painting as a whole.
Musically, digital recording technology has expanded and grown exponentially and allows artists and engineers to layer sound and effects and manipulate a track without any degradation of the signal. It has placed the creation of music in the hands of the artists; and allows them a level of quality, production, and means of distribution that wasn’t possible just a few short years ago.
Without this kind of technology, chances are good that we wouldn’t have an artist like ADM.
ADM is the product of the mind of Adam Peterson. Peterson studied piano performance at CCM and began recording as part of The Marburg Collective, a local music co-operative project that provided a do-it-yourself recording studio, a performance space and a haven for local music collaboration. Other Marburg Collective projects include The Happy Maladies, Carnal Unit, Whitfield Crocker, SHADOWRAPTR, Meth Girlfriend, Gorges and Honest Abe.
ADM’s latest work, A Delicate Motor, is the musical equivalent to a post-modern painting: multitudinous in layers, greater than the sum of its parts and open to numerous interpretations. It is abstract without being unapproachable and serious without being pretentious.
Peterson’s music is reminiscent of the works of artists like Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, composers who delicately walked the line between music and performance art.
Likewise, much of the music on the album reminds me of the work of Frank Zappa, where the individual elements are so closely interwoven that, without the virtuosity of each performance, the entire composition would crumble. With A Delicate Motor, Peterson proves himself to be equally adept at keys, sampling, looping, voice and percussion.
Much like the work of umin, Peterson’s compositions are not chained to musical convention and play brilliantly with off-beat rhythms. He is also not afraid to even use silence as an instrument.
The vocals on the album are also so abstracted that they could be in another language. Simply put, the voices are another element in the mix. But, like any aspect of A Delicate Motor, take a closer look and you’ll find poetry that can stand on its own and be appreciated independently.
i won't be around for long
for you, i will move it all along
if in you keep me in line for now
i had goals unnamed, unnamed
i know when i'm doing wrong
that's why i put my head to song
what it is i am trying to say is
i have goals unnamed, unnamed
[you end the day, and that's what a day has]
in line for now (free)
Much like with technology in general, on my first listen to ADM’s A Delicate Motor, I found that I was too focused on dissecting the individual pieces and hyper-analyzing this track vs. that track or this phrase vs. that phrase. Later, when I re-visited the album, I tried to hear it as a whole.
When I did, I found a deeply resonating, almost primitive driving force behind the music. The bass vibrates your inner-self and the chant-like singing reaches out to a long-buried primeval piece of your humanity and says “come play with me.”