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Pedestrian Deposit
Eleventh Hour Dustin Krcatovich , November 25th, 2015 21:39

Long-running Los Angeles duo Pedestrian Deposit are virtually peerless when it comes to tension. They have a reputation for oscillating unpredictably between fine-tuned restraint and vicious abandon, putting nearly all tools revealed in the last 60 years of post-Cage experimental sound to work for them in the process. Shannon Kennedy has lacerated her arm at live shows, using her neck and forearm as tuning pegs for a length of metal wire played with her cello bow; Jonathan Borges has used his arsenal of electronics to push sound systems and musical constraints to their furthest limits, expertly dancing through tonal fields both harsh and lovely. They're obviously part of a long lineage of freak forefathers/mothers, but they're also the only unit that moves through the space in just the way they do.

On Eleventh Hour (originally released a couple years back as a tour-only cassette on the band's own Monorail Trespassing label, and given a fresh vinyl treatment here on Tempe, Arizona's Gilgongo label), the duo do their best to translate that tension on record. It could never hope to match the physicality of their live shows, especially those since Kennedy joined the project in 2008, but it ably compensates with variety. The album's two side-long tracks walk steadily through a variety of moods and techniques, from spare musique concrete to full-on walls of inhuman huzz, from dour cello dirges to classic electroacoustic hunch à la Blood Stereo, Darksmith, et al; though the album never seems long, it does seem like a journey. It's simultaneously an intense and lulling experience, the difference in perspective at least partially relying on the amount of attention you're willing to give it. I wouldn't deign to attach the always-dubious ambient tag, though: it's just tasteful, confident in its strength. It doesn't have to prove its ability to grab you by the jugular.

That kind of strength is exceptionally rare, perhaps doubly so in the non-academic noise/experimental scene. I've heard many descriptors (some unfit to print, even within the unconstrained wonderworld of tQ) hurled at many noise acts at many shows, but "reined in" has rarely been one of them. When one has the means, the impetus to aurally splooge every which way is strong, and is often encouraged by surrounding observers. It takes focus to do otherwise, basically the underground's equivalent to not playing the hits. There's nothing wrong with the alternative, but it's still an impressive skill.

I was recently discussing a much ballyhooed, nominally "noise" record with a fellow lifer, one by which we were both largely nonplussed, and he admitted that he "really want[ed] there to be a masterpiece left in the noise scene", something I agree hasn't quite happened in the last 20 years or so (though a few albums have certainly come close). Eleventh Hour isn't a masterpiece, but given its origins as a tour-only cassette (which are almost always an afterthought; the title even implies as much), that would probably be asking too much out of it. To my ears, though, it does serve to imply that Pedestrian Deposit may yet have that noise masterpiece somewhere in them. Here's hoping. In the interim, you couldn't ask for a much better placeholder.