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Review: Flannelly vs. Funkhouser Volume Three
Posted May 21, 2015 by Taylor Peters

 

Flannelly vs. Funkhouser Volume Three, is the third (duh) release in a line of collaborative experiments between John Flannelly and Rob Funkhouser. Flannelly's got Volumes One and Two up on his Bandcamp to help us slow-movers to keep up, but the concept is simple: collaboration (duh, again). For Volume Three, Flannelly sent Funkhouser tracks to remix and Funkhouser sent Flannelly tracks to remix, and then each spun those remixes out into a 30-minute EP which results in just over an hour of new music (NB: Flannelly also released the tracks he sent to Funkhouser as an MFT-exclusive standalone release called Ojos). Flannelly's remixes make up the first half, Funkhouser's the second.

 

 

Naturally, the easy point of entry into any fight is to pick sides. Take two names, shove a "versus" in between, and it's like begging me to sidle up to one while the other I cake in the dust spun out from beneath my wheels. As such, the first, second, and third times I listened to Flannelly vs. Funkhouser Volume Three on my digital device I queued up some two-minute acoustic guitar noodles in between so I'd know where the hinge was. Of course listening to the tape edition (which is gloriously in print courtesy of Red Frost Industries) enforces the division sort of naturally since each player's contribution is consigned to a side. This is especially so if you shout the word "versus" into your empty living room as I did when flipping the tape. 

 

Eventually I cut the conscious splitting, though. For one, what with Flannelly largely relying on Audacity to make his edits, and Funkhouser using Ableton, at a technical level it's relatively easy to pick out little differences in form and sound. Beyond even that, though, the musicality of each is irreducibly different.

 

Despite using roughly similar source materials (synth textures, largely) and stepping through the same mutually creative process, it comes through that it would have been impossible for Funkhouser and Flannelly to make anything other than two totally distinct halves. Their musical voices are too strong, something made all the more impressive by dint of the fact that their literal voices appear nowhere on this release; it's all sound wracked into shapes, and each arrive in places no one but he could. 

 

So then, the "versus," despite its nominal expediency, is misplaced. It is not Flannelly pitted against Funkhouser in a rush to differentiate. It is Flannelly and Funkhouser together, stretching out "collaboration" and standing up "versus" what might prove to be the inviolability of actual collective expression, against "well no matter what you do someone's voice is always going to drown out some else's" by way of a muddling of the voices through "composition" followed by "remixing." The experiment in this "experimental music" is as much structural and process-based as it is sonic. 

 

The differences are a given; what's more exciting are the points of contact. When you catch a whiff of something that Flannelly looped picked up and carried down the road by Funkhouser's drifting compositions, or hear a fragment in Funkhouser that sounds like something Flannelly could've blasted to pieces with distortion and pitch-shift, it's totally thrilling.

 

Flannelly vs. Funkhouser also sounds good when you ride your bike around too, don't worry. I did a scientific test. It involved me riding my bike with this record on repeat in my headphones. I recommend it. No traffic accidents, only good vibes.

 

Flannelly and Funkhouser are playing a release show for the tape this Friday, May 22 at the Artifex Guild in Bloomington. They'll be joined by Lake Daggers. It's $5. You can swing it.

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