The thing about Line Drawings is that a ton of disparate elements come together to form an unmistakably cohesive statement. But like COOP’s excellent DNR, it’s the subtle elements that make both special.
Line Drawings is, of course, the 4-way split LP project between four of the best musicians working in experimental music today aka Josh Mason, Joe Houpert, Cody Yantis, & Nathan McLaughlin. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I played a role in this project by releasing a tape companion to this album as well as contributing a solo piece to a series of 7″s they released in conjunction. That being said, this piece is focused entirely on the Desire Path LP. That’s the biggest star of the series.
Mason leads things off with scratchy, solemn guitar expositions that still offer a hint of sweetness and light. There’s such dichotomy within his work that’s always stood out to me, and that matches well to the strong, sweet nose of DNR. Houpert’s pieces are the most playful of the bunch as they twist and turn toward unexpected horizons, finding unforeseen corridors to exploit and cherish. There’s an air of seriousness, sure, but it’s tempered by a wafting booziness, much like the 10%ABV DNR drops on you without so much as a hint.
Cody Yantis and Nathan McLaughlin are the hardest to figure out, though. Yantis’ offerings are steeped in shades of grey with shards of brilliant light emanating every so often. It’s music that is deeply meditative and should be appreciated over time. You don’t want to shotgun DNR, either (even if it is now available in cans). It’s complexity should be admired while sipping a glass and noting how it changes and evolves as it warms up. It’s such a well-crafted beer that the flavor profile is impossible to pin down. McLaughlin, in all the years I’ve called him a friend, has produced more music that confounds me than most artists. His tracks here are a microcosm of the project as a whole. They’re subtle but make a huge impact. Within each four-minute piece, he bores down to the absolute base of the statement he’s trying to make, creating something so focused and on point that it’s almost intimidating. It’s beautiful.
Line Drawings is one of the year’s most ambitious projects and these four pull it off with aplomb. Likewise, for Oklahoma beer, DNR being available in cans is one of the most excitings happenings this year. Together, these two (six) are certainly making this an excellent weekend.