(Constellation Tatsu, 2015)
Toledo-by-way-of-Oakland producer/artist Dang Olsen Dream Tape (or, uh, Dan Olsen) flirts with ambience and vaporwave, but there’s something way more tangible than your average wisp-and-its-gone Beer on the Rug artist. (Don’t mistake that as criticism, I love the BotR releases.) Maybe it’s his extensive work as a visual artist, which you can peruse here on his website, that helps instill a sense of tangibility, even though he does a lot of computer art (which is amazing). The monster masks! Genius. All told, I guess, the visuals inform the music – Just Roll is an audio extension of Olsen’s lysergic worldview, and he’s foisted it upon us, ever so delicately, via space pioneers Constellation Tatsu. It’s an odd match, but a good one.
“Ganji Yomes Leaving Home” is sort of a red herring opening the tape, as it really does get the sense of beginning an adventure down to the essense. Perhaps it’s the plucked strings or small, pulsing rhythm that sets it off, but the journey awaits. It’s cinematic, dawn, and whoever Ganji Yomes is, he or she’s got a backpack and some walking boots, and the open road calls. But that’s the most tangible visual you’re likely to encounter throughout Just Roll. As I listen, I’m more inclined to feel my eyes cloud over, like I’m opening them underwater, and experiencing an upside-down pastel netherland where CGI meets Windows 97, and there’s no depth to anything. It’s mostly trippy, but VR trippy, like the infinite prismatic possibilities on the underside of a CDr.
So “Dream Tape” it is, and we, er, Just Roll with it, because that’s all you can really do. It moves slowly, massaging the pleasure centers of your brain with pink tendrils, like wisps of green smoke through blue gardens. And seriously, the computer work page is super helpful for guidance – for example, “Freaky Smiley” goes really well with the rainbow/Black Lodge floor pattern/Abyss water alien/green grass image (number 26). “Into the Illusion” creeps into your cerebrum with a little bit extra weirdness, dropping rhythm to slightly menacing ambience by the end of it, and perfectly soundtracking image 6, or “eyeball brain rainbow entity,” as I like to call it.
Just Roll is not content in its weirdness, and flattens itself to expand through the second half, reaching across landscapes of pure tone, and singular in its intent. See, for example, the glowing tropical triptych of “Bong,” “In the Eyes of Majik,” and “Smokey Ruxpin,” and tell me there’s nothing going on here. “Trusty Dream” and “The Reward” end the tape on a high note (woops! Pun subconsciously intended), vapor aids in your passage from wakefulness to dreaming, gentle guides to altered states, enhanced realities. And isn’t what this is all about anyway? Dang Olsen Dream Tape, artist, musician, purveyor of consciousness expansion, and all around super cat, just wants you to have a good trip. And isn’t that just what you want too? It’s like he’s a mind reader! Nah – he’s just a new-wave cartoon guru from another planet.
RIYL: Infinity Frequencies, Chungking Mansions, Pulse Emitter, Forever 23