The first couple times I listened to OOBYDOOB, Sedcairn Archives' latest LP on Joyful Noise Recordings, I thought the kickoff sound was some kind of film projector. I heard it hum, ready to flash off images on a blank wall. I was primed to scan these sounds as cinematic: celluloid ticker tape, flashing orange, yellow and green, moaning samples, tumbling drums.
That's no film projector, though. It's an elevator downward and it's firing up, so you better warn the foreman that we're back in the cave.
In 2014, Sedcairn Archives, the current preferred alias of Indianapolis' David "Moose" Adamson, dropped Mammoth Cave, a hip-hop and footwork inflected exploration of subterranan nether, and here we are two years later, still spelunking. Isn't it nice when analogies hold water for two years?
Listening to Mammoth Cave was like holding your breath. Like being squeezed between the earth and a mountain, between two tremendous bass formants. The bass shudder and pitch-shifted growl were built within the framework of dance music, but acted less as an invitation to move and more a reminder that gravity's got us always falling and that we may as well prostrate ourselves and feel the earth rushing up.
That gravelly, processed vocal and obsession with the low end is still there on OOBYDOOB. The voice pops up almost immediately on "4 What They/Castrol," but instead of a cavernous plunge, the song pivots into a loping backbeat from drummer Ostry Okerson. A programmed bass twiddles in its upper register with hi-hats all akimbo. It's a lovely opening-up and extension of Adamson's aesthetic. We're inhaling now. We're exhaling. We're dancing. The room's just as dark but the echoes take longer to find their way back. OOBYDOOB sounds surprising and yet still so comfortably contiguous with what came before.
Album high point "Slide USA" begins almost like we've stumbled upon a grainy krautrock band with synths right up front. The band's midway through a tumble. But then a hushed snare cinches around Adamson's insistent whisper and lets the whole piece drift away, pulsing. It glints like the flashes of color on the back of closed eyelids. Adamson handed us a flashlight this time. Maybe hearing that projector wasn't such a mistake.
Mammoth Cave sounded like Adamson fussing filters solitarily; it sounded shadowy. But OOBYDOOB, with its invigorated brightness, sounds just about as inviting as mysterious clangor from the underground possibly can. Here, Adamson welcomes all manner of outside voices and sounds. "Out of Body" crests with Oreo Jones and Sirius Blvck rhyming over swamp gas. "Kissin' in the Dark" finds Tender Evans on a fragmentary refrain, inviting us to ignore hints of motion in the periphery and bob with the beat.
In the end, maybe the cave analogy is a little more than just two years old: Mammoth Cave was Adamson orienting us to the back of Plato's fave cave, the light behind us so we could only monitor the shadows.
On OOBYDOOB we're down just as deep, but we're turned around to watch the fire's high-noon flicker.
The whole of this record is a tense windup preceding the sounds of slinking back to the shadows. Album closer "Blimp" starts with scratchy synth and forward motion borrowed from half-time techno before it dissipates in layers of delay-soaked vocals, smoking upward through cave wall cracks. Keep your eyes on the fire. There are friends around. It's okay to dance. Sing it with me.