Tabs Out | The Spookfish – Pumpkin Beats 2

The Spookfish – Pumpkin Beats 2

7.16.20 by Matty McPherson

Every time I open the newspaper (for your information, I read *insert local metropolitan paper here*), I’m bombarded with an advert for the latest rehash, ripoff, or (dare I type) the dreaded sequel. Nothing gets me more riled up than an unnecessary sequel, and my copy of the Spookfish’s latest release, Pumpkin Beats 2, was headed to the trash can until I tripped over my copy of this New York Times hyperlink and watched the tape somehow miraculously jump into my boombox!

The Spookfish (aka Dan Goldberg), should be a name familiar to Hudson Valley DIY + nature lovers. For the past several years, Goldberg had been hosting a series of Mountain Shows, where people hike and stop for musical performances “at scenic spots”, while cranking out no-fidelity synth tunes and folk ditties for himself as well as the big wigs at Fire Talk. Pumpkin Beats 2, a sequel (of sorts) to the Pumpkin Beats 4-track EP from 2014, was released on Lily’s Tapes and Discs earlier in March and might be the closest experience you can currently have if you wished you could be at Goldberg’s Mountain Shows but now sit at home and stare at cars passing by.

Like the previous batch of Pumpkin Beats, the Spookfish really plays into the idea of “no-fidelity” surreal blips. Many of these songs are rudimentary sketches, laid bare with drum machines and synth sounds (“Oaf” in particular gives off the vibe of running a DND campaign about raiding a Spirit Halloween store on November 1st), or stripped down piano/guitar and murmurs (“Path”, a truly misunderstood slowcore ballad). They rarely stretch above two minutes. In this state, these songs cast off a strange aura out of the ‘ol boombox, like you’ve stumbled into someone’s basement when they’re trying to hold down a young prayer to a pagan temple for themselves. But they’re still friendly and invite you to sit in!

Yet, the best track is really saved for last, with “In the Dark” stretching to SEVEN herculean minutes as the Spookfish combines synth drone/noise and acoustic strumming to weave up the feeling of being drowned out, taken to a passive state. My only complaints are that it’s not longer, nor that it’s ending is anything more than just a sudden stop.

I really did at first want to decimate this album. However, everytime I look up from my room at a barren, empty street (I live in a college town, in a college county, in a college state) in the middle of the night, I feel the strange inkling to start my own occult dedicated to the Spookfish.

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