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Weird Work

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Album Review

Adventure's Benny Boeldt has been no stranger to change over the course of his career, moving from his debut's chiptune naiveté to Lesser Known's chillwave-leaning pop. On Weird Work, he borrows a bit from each approach and still manages to sound fairly different than where he's been before, stretching and twisting his 8-bit palette into tracks that would make for very strange video game soundtracks indeed. Songs such as "Laser Blast" are tense and playful at the same time, topping a frantic beat with synth tones that suggest the cutest ray gun ever. Boeldt returns to the largely instrumental terrain of his debut, and doing away with vocals allows him to experiment with structures and textures to their fullest. At times, this results in tracks that suggest a more dancefloor-oriented version of Lesser Known's sound: "Nervous" boasts a percolating beat and a rubbery low end that flirts with dubstep. On the other hand, the dreamy, fantastical air he cultivates on "Alone" and its collision of distorted beats and pitch-bent tones makes it one of Boeldt's most hypnotic pieces yet. Often, Weird Work sounds like a low-res Aphex Twin album, particularly on the bouncy opening track "Days Off," which alternates between innocent melodies and textural excursions, and the acid techno/chiptune hybrid "Flower," which has a tinny, deceptively simple charm that extends to many other songs here. It's interesting to note that many of these songs are twice as long as the tracks on his prior albums; some of them are also a little longer than they really needed to be, but the seven-minute showcase "Catching Up" underscores that this album is about Boeldt trying things and expanding creatively. Indeed, he stretches so far that Adventure straddles the line between electro-pop and the more purely electronic music he draws inspiration from here. Weird Work ends up living up to its name: it's not as precious as Boeldt's previous albums, but it's not as envelope-pushing as its inspirations, and it's also some of his most accomplished, yet least immediate music. The territory he scopes out on these tracks isn't quite a no man's land, but he may need to change gears again on his next album — which, based on his track record, he'll almost certainly do.

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After relocating to Baltimore from North Carolina, beatmaker Benny Boeldt started hanging out with Wham City, a loose performance art/musical collective including Dina Kelberman and Dan Deacon. Making music under the pseudonym Adventure and signed to Baltimore's Carpark Records (home to several Wham City-related acts), Boeldt carved his self-titled 2008 album primarily out of the 8-bit aesthetic. He continued this sound on a split 12" EP with Deacon, and sang on his album Bromst, both of which appeared...
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Weird Work, Adventure
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