Album Review

David Lackner / John Swana – Struttin’ Around (Galtta, 2010)


David LackerIm Wunderschönen Monat Mai

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I’m not a really a jazz guy, so when the new Galtta tape label sent me the first batch of four releases, I was a little hesitant. But every once in a while something special comes along and shows me what’s up, like some of the Galtta tapes. Some of them were more straight jazz than the rest, but GALTTA-001, the split with David Lackner and John Swana was definitely weird enough for me to dig into and share with all yous.

David Lackner’s side is packed with some wicked electronics, which gives it an automatic +10 in my book. It’s super cool, not too ambitious or gaudy, and definitely made for couch melting. It does a killer job of keeping it nice & spacey, with radar echoes, arpeggiated bloops, lo-fi static buzzing, glitchy ambience, and robot love songs, conjuring sexy retro sci-fi chicks with white go-go boots & mod hair. There’s also plenty of traditional horns, saxophones, drums, etc, but pulling in some surprises too. One of the tracks, “Study In Clutter” is so out there, with boy-girl Sesame Street vocals and a very solid almost tribal beat with lots of handclaps, flutes, and some numbers station samples. Yeah, I’ve heard that done to death but it really works well here. Lackner’s tracks are pretty fucking rad and totally not your usual jazz fare. Wacky sounds abound on this side, giving me a reason to make a minimal ’60s existential sci-fi throwback because Lackner would be so goddamn perfect for the score.

John Swana is normally a trumpet dude, but his side of Struttin’ Around is completely lacking. Instead there’s classic synthy Moogy electronics, definitely making me think of some of the first jazz synths like old Francis Bebey or something. Swana’s style is similarly spacey to Lackner’s, but a bit darker, maybe more ambient and New Agey. He does a lot of exploring, weeding through exotic alien jungles in the dark without worrying about deadly creatures lurking, stumbling upon a mythical nightclub, lit only by the glow of fluorescent insects, where the celebrities lounge in smokey decadence and John Swana is the house band. Totally pretentious, obviously, but still utterly desirable. Swana kills it every night with splayed electronics boards & the occasional piano/drum/whatever backup, crafting an intelligent weave of loopy melodies, dim crackle, magic sex, and blorpy atmospheres. Chill party CITY.

I doubt Swana’s tunes always sound like this, and maybe Lackner also does some other more traditional shit, but the pairing of their sounds on this split is fucking grand. They just work so well together. And when you mix spacey electronics with jazz, I’m pretty much hooked. Galtta nailed it with their first release. Can’t wait to see where they go from here. Major cool points: stream the whole tape on Bandcamp (or grab one of 200 limited copies for a mere $4).