It's a bit tough to describe Lifafa – the new experimental solo-something by Peter Cat Recording Co.'s vocalist – but here's a shot: A bright-eyed little scamp in a dystopian candy store made of lots of reverb, ethereal blip-bloop synths, and hypnotic electronic drum loops. The album, (imaginatively) titled Lifafa I, is an ambient thing that's too jarring and restless to stay in the background, and too ponderous and oblique to stick to the front of the class, making it a pretty demanding listen.
Additionally, the experiments in the album are often too laborious, with fully formed ideas easily giving way to half-baked visions and little vignettes that employ significant manipulation of sound to build a canvas that's littered with tense passages and the odd hollow vocal line washed with splotches of heavy reverb; the overall narrative of Lifafa I is stilted and often wooden – possibly intentionally. And there's maybe even the slight suspicion that the entire album is just late-night bedroom ramblings that've turned into a new release.
However – and this is actually the most important bit – as with most things coming out of the PCRC camp, this latest release is yet again pushing the scope for experiments within the sphere of indie music. There are far too many interesting little tidbits of sounds, loops, samples, and ambience sprinkled across Lifafa for it to be a fluke – 'Gopi' for one, with its hauntingly affected keys, and the cavernous compass of 'Los Gatos', stick out for their odd melodic cores around which the weirdness revolves.
In fact, the minimal synth-driven pieces are the ones that have maximum recall value, while the more percussion-based electro-loop-drums songs seem far too repetitive and long-winded to capture the required effect, and are almost filler when placed against the structurally challenging melodies and motifs that define this release in the first place. Ultimately, the vision's in place, and the ideas are flowing.
Lifafa I is available for streaming at http://lifafa.bandcamp.com/