Daren Keck glides through cool post-rock, glitchy rhythmic structures and flows of experimental music in his very listenable debut, 7 Years Under, and he does it without breaking an artistic sweat. The disc opens with “Go in the Black,” where a piano that can’t help but call up thoughts of John Lennon sings against a textbook-perfect glitch backdrop. The followup, “TDG,” is similarly structured, but Keck dials back the glitch a bit–only to ramp it back up again two tracks later on the heavily electronic “Nap Heist.” The laid-back stretch of “Pensive” and “Lean Sine” gives Keck a chance to pull out his deeper emotional side. “Lean Sine” in particular makes great use of held notes and fading pauses. These two lead in to perhaps the highlight track here, “Crumble,” where Keck brings it all together; piano melodies, rhythm shifts, high-speed twitchy accents and my favorite touch, a little shot of Latin percussion. It’s a big, sexy, cinematic track. The closer, “October Winds,” builds from charmingly hesitant guitar and courses its way through dark spaces populated by disembodied, muffled voices. Another favorite. The only time Keck goes a bit far afield for me is on “Barnyard Hedgehog Soup,” where when an accordion sounds breaks into the midst of an otherwise relentlessly repetitive structure–before it lands briefly in an Oldfield-ish pastorale. It’s a weird little piece, but has an odd allure to it. I just can’t listen to it as often as the other tracks here.
Keck is a talented musician and fully in control of his sounds. I found the depth of sound to be surprising, and there were a lot of “Oh, nice” moments for me. This one started strong and just got better with repeat listens. A solid debut, and an indicator of more good things to come.
Available from Wayfarer Records.