1.1.21 by Matty McPherson
I think I was most gripped by that bloody cover. That Bumblebee Mannequin Ghoul isn’t an anomaly; they haunt swap meets of all shapes and deals. But this one (based on a photo) has that same visceral impact that the viral tweet of a degraded Chuck E Cheese animatronic gave me from a while back. Not quite sure how to describe that feeling of that naked corporate pizza mouse character–a tear between a real Junker’s Delight and a grade-A example of the Refinement of the Decline. Sonically, Orange Milk releases are usually good extrapolations of such debris that surfaces on the digital scroll. That the label’s overarching sounds parallel such things that fly through our digital feeds lends an easy shorthand, used too leniently. It is true that they do operate where language and synchronicity falter in a way sound can truly collapse into bonafide feeling.
The Heart Pumps Kool-Aid is a collaboration between maverick goofballs Seth Graham and More Eaze. Yes, their project is literally called —__–___ and it likely requires apt usage of proper enunciation of “beeps and boops” if you want to request it on the radio. If you know both of their work, then the elements of mumble type pop beats n’ croons, Astral Spirits free noise, and somber digital ambiance is likely a good friend of yours. If you don’t, well the best way I can describe this album is that it seamlessly mixes these characteristics into a full concept piece.
In fact, it is so seamless that everytime I listen to this half hour, I end up letting it fill the room, trying to take in every tiptoeing key and thousand yard stare of a string. It has been there for me most mornings, as I clean the kitchen, whipping up microwave oatmeal that I proceed to dump coffee all over; arguably this is the most ideal time to digest the depth of this project. Unlike most Orange Milk releases, this one carries wrinkles of a humdrum dawn, a stark pre-conscious clarity that works its way through your nostrils until you’ve come to your senses.
In a way, it is in the same spiritual wheelhouse as Giant Claw’s 2021 ECM New Series inversion, Mirror Guide. A stiller complement to that album’s (horny) frenzy, it too eschews at the fabric of classic orchestration, by often focusing on friend’s commissions that push towards sonic peripheries. There’s the embrace of fringe genres that ropes in Rob fecking Magil’s world of drone and recovery girl black metal outbursts with open arms. Taken in tandem with cello, xylophone, and vocal harmonies that flash like fireworks, it’s a creative goldmine. That does not even account for proxy.exe’s piercing spoken word piece, rock bottom ohio, which is a frank, unabashed detailing of survival.
All in all, what’s mended together is brevitous in a way I don’t expect from Orange Milk. The Heart Pumps Kool Aid is a constructivist epigraph for whatever the fuck it means to wake up and know you live in America, a neon junkyard of cultural amnesia. It evokes an energy that comes as close as anything in recent memory to Lucas Foster’s sorely missed writings. Might you find yourself wandering through it on a tantalizing fall morning.
Available at fine retailers stocking Orange Milk