From the opening vocal chant of “Say Ahhh” to the closing static fits of “Lost In My Head,” Toronto’s Doldrums leads a tour through future sick pop soundscapes from the deck of a roller coaster. The one-man project of former Spiral Beach frontman Eric Asher, Doldrums has honed the eerie, off-kilter, sample-driven pop compositions that he became known for during his streak of 7” releases, which included a split with Portishead, and has mustered an action-packed debut statement with his Empire Sound EP.
At just over 17 minutes long over six tracks, Empire Sound zips through a vast spectrum of moods and carefully sculpted textures, from the clattering stomp of Freeload track “I’m Homesick Sittin’ Up Here In My Satellite” to the ice-cold desolation of “Endless Winter.” Highlight “Parrot Talk” covers a bouncing rhythm in horror movie garb, making for a ditty as frightening as it is catchy. Though every single minute is stuffed to the seams with colliding samples and layers of tribal percussion, Asher manages to illuminate the catchy patches in his copied-and-pasted sound collages. Tying all of the kaleidoscopic madness together is Asher’s haunting, rubbery voice, lending the EP a breath of life to the frenzied electro.
Taking pages from the playbooks of acts like Atlas Sound and the Avalanches, Doldrums finds transcendence in atmospheric arrangements made up of found elements. More than anything, Doldrums demonstrates a keen ear for creating striking moods and expansive visions from samples, and winds up with a unique debut EP that establishes himself as an artist to watch.