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Les Easterby’s tenure as a rock musician in Wichita, Kansas is both baffling and breathtaking in its prolificacy. Air House Records’ artist page for a previous project of his (of which there are many, varying mostly nominally) describes him as a “reclusive pop genius,” which until recently would be an inarguable blurb, per the bit about reclusion. Having personally discovered his work through a user-curated iTunes playlist years ago, it took some serious scouring of the internet – including treads of his former bands’ MySpace pages – to finally arrive at the relieving conclusion that he’s still very much in the game. On Black Friday, he released two new EPs under two separate names; one of which is Dik Dik Sounds from his longest-running moniker The World Palestine. These four songs are lifted from an upcoming full length, and it was professed that they were the first finished numbers from that future album. So while it may strike some to hear this as a sampler platter for what’s to come, the EP dually operates as a pH reading for what TWP does best: winding progressive pop melodies that occasionally challenge the ear just as much as they treat it to bliss.
The fidelity on Dik Dik Sounds oddly resembles that of the self-titled debut. The guitars teem with fuzz; just enough that Easterby’s intricate picking patterns remain legible. In “This Is a Bill,” he deftly maneuvers through a perplexing jam sequence in 17/8 time. Math rock’s umbrella spans widely, offering several definitions. Easterby never sticks to just one. There’s the aforementioned, in which an unthinkable series of notes unfold in off-kilter meter, manifesting deliberate chaos that spreads like a wildfire threatening to scorch the aural vessel that gave it a ride; and the minimalist route in the outro to “Ono,” wherein two dutifully transparent guitar and bass phrases exchange a single note that barely offsets the standard 4/4. The latter plays out like math rock as interpreted by The Red Krayola; strictly utilitarian and possibly more demonstrative in the moment rather than for sheer melody. But what is the old phrase again… “It’s good enough for jazz.”
“Ono” itself harkens back to the sugary shoegaze inklings of the debut, recalling similar numbers from acts like Pale Saints and Lush; a rare straightforward, chugging display of power pop from a musician long obsessed with the expression. If its opening notes weren’t successful in chilling the psyche, the ensuing “No Nay” continues to unnerve, depicting a slice of life whose musings on frequent lovemaking and close quarters frivolity (“I come home to your apartment/You’re singing Right Said Fred”) appear joyous and giddy on paper, yet when set to the haunting, droning instrumental backdrop, begin to hint at a nervousness that perhaps suggests a bewildered state in reaction to so much euphoria.
Like the best sampler platters, Dik Dik Sounds does indeed whet the appetite for more. Although there is no confirmed date for the full length at this juncture, those residing within and outside the Air Capital of the World would do right to look forward to the impending Les Easterby record for his tried and true subtle poetry and guitar-centric, asymmetrically divine compositions.
You may purchase the record digitally here.
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