ZamZam is proud to present a long-awaited 7” from Portland pillar Gulls AKA Jesse Munro Johnson. Johnson is known the world over as label boss of Boomarm Nation, one of the jewels of underground Cascadian sound. The Boomarm aesthetic is one of experimental brilliance, sound system music from outer worlds and inner dimensions, responsible for many heads’ first exposure to artists such as El Mahdy Jr and Iskeletor.
A&R moves aside, some of the most unique and memorable moments in the Boomarm catalog are Gulls’ own. In a scene full of copycats strong on presets but weak on voice, Johnson is a producer that has fully digested many influences to create a truly unique sound. Deploying hardware, software, live instrumentation and desk-as-instrument, Gulls knows his history and the present moment but stays focused on manifesting his saturated, distorted out sound from way in.
Water Creature is a 110 bpm beast of fuzzed bassline, panned toms, 80s claps, syncopated snares, shimmering, distorted synth melody and insistent rave-ish stabs. Dubbed & delayed guitar figures recall West Africa without resorting to ethnographic forgery or facile sampling. An enveloping, mesmerizing, neck-snapping journey through shades of dancehall and dub techno that will demand replays, lingering in the psyche long after the runout groove.
On the flip Gulls delights as band leader of the Gulls Rhythm Force, a real-time ensemble of horns, percussion and electronics deployed in the service of the same simmering, shimmering Gulls aesthetic. A steady 140 bpm 4/4 kick pulse anchors a hallucinogenic world of ghosting skanks, a static, hazy motif that feels like double and triple exposed silver-gelatin prints, clear images giving way to abstract grain. Mirage-like guitar, smearing trumpet and bubbling keys float in and out of focus, emerging from a haze of pink distortion and purple reverb, only to be subsumed in the thick atmospheres and overlapping echo trails once more.