Boomkat Product Review:
The final release by Alex Gray’s D/P/I project - a long-time favourite of ours, and surely one of the more under-recognised artists out there...
With the scrambled, perception-baiting rhythm studies of Composer, Alex Gray lays his D/P/I or DJ Purple Image avatar to rest for the final time on Felicia Atkinson and Bartolomé Sanson’s Shelter Press label.
Over the last five years, Gray’s most virulent project has persistently, perceptively challenged our sense of proprioception, spatial awareness and pattern recognition with a string of releases for his own Deep Image label and L.A.’s Leaving Records, plus more recent hook-ups with Cameron Stallones, both in collaboration and as part of his Sun Araw Duos, Trios and Quartets.
Emerging as the west coast US beat scene fractured into ever more psychedelic, asynchronous patterns at the start of this decade, the D/P/I project staked out some of that scene’s wildest gestures, fracking deep into a wider unconscious that attempted to locate the nuanced variables of human error and improvisation within the “fixed” parameters of midi-mapped electronic music.
In terms of function, however, you would hardly call his beat-works “club” music or anything related. They were better thought of as the result of a process, from which we could learn about the intrinsic relations between haptic human gestures and software capabilities. Gray is pretty extreme in his assertions that “This album was fun, exciting and unpredictable until the day it was “finished””, which more or less sums up his experiential, as opposed to experimental, approach to making music, and what he hopes he and we can take from it.
So the fractal, ribboning rhythms of Composer sit awkwardly beyond any contemporary genre restrictions, possibly better compared with the intentions of Steve Reich’s phasing infidelities in Drumming, Jamal Moss’s Strange Strings convolutions, or the scattered brownian motion of elements within Mark Fell’s Scale Structure Synthesis rather than anything locked-off, defined, or conceptually dead-in-the-water.
Good stuff, and a strong final outing for this highly individual, often inspired project.