steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Dylan Ettinger and the Heat

"Smokin'" 7"

Not Not Fun

Genre: instructional VHS tapes gone wild

Bloomington, IN

January 2010

The more enlightened among us might recognize young Dylan Ettinger sans Heat as one of the monsieurs behind the El Tule tape label, for which he's also put out a handful of releases. This allegedly smouldering record comes to me in plain white jacket with hand-written artist name/title, allowing me a sense of context-free anticipation. What to expect? Noise? Free jazz? J-poop? Payola$ covers?

Turns out my latter guess wriggled closest to the heart of the matter. Side A's "Smokin'" comes replete with really great sireny, whiny synths and luscious sax slurs laid over drums and intergalactic electronic swirls. It's decked in a great pseudo-80s tinny sound, all gleaming like the intro to some instructional VHS tape or a random instrumental B-side off a pilfered discount-bin 45. For all its retro dabbling, it's a strangely intoxicating bit of sweetness -- sort of wistful and melodic, yet inarguably idiosyncratic.

The other side houses "Miami Heat (The Stakeout)" -- a neat little b-ballin', crime-bustin' romper. On this little number, we're treated to more good ol' tinny sax n' synths, but a brooding drum line helps beat out a darker, even menacing affair. I'm picturing this as the soundtrack to a seedy midnight street scene in some dystopian eighties thriller, kind of like a Tangerine Dream-scored hybrid of Running Man and After Hours. It's smooth, devious and somehow addicting. And like the A-side, it's not worth missing.

dylan ettinger's myspace

"Pushin'" (not from this album):

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 2 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]