Potions – Light and Dark

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To be released on 5/26/15!┬áC40 – Orange tape with black imprints. Pro-dubbed chrome + tape. 2-sided 3-panel J-card with artwork from Sam Nigrosh (Grasshopper, Oozing Wound) and Max Allison (HausMo co-founder).

Spend any time at DIY house parties or experimental shows in the Chicago underground scene and you will come to know the music of multi-instrumentalist Tom Owens. His solo jams as Potions, conveyed from a complex system of synths, samplers, and drum machines, have sparked innumerable room-shaking grooves, sending even the normies present to confer with their gyrating bros about how “This is really weird, but I like it.” Having studied jazz guitar in college, Owens restarted his musical practice to explore the possibilities of electronic composition – while releasing his own music and his friends’ work through his tape label Pretty All Right. Despite their humble terrestrial origins, the sessions that constitute Light and Dark embody a unique strain of analog performance that conjures a vibe closer to space age lounge music than any sub-genre of contemporary dance. Like Hausu Mountain friend Jerry Paper, Potions tinkers with a palette of post-Yellow Magic Orchestra electronic exotica, charged with tightly programmed beats and intricately layered synth arrangements. Drum patterns clatter through polyrhythmic configurations, evolving into new variations at a rate that shatters expectations of recursion. Melodies unwind in swathes of day-glo activity over labyrinthine chord progressions, locking into memorable harmonic contrasts and moments of pure major-key bliss.

Potions cherry-picks tactics from various electronic traditions and repurposes them as logical elements of his dense arrangements: squelching Aphex acid basslines, slow filter sweeps that wash out entire backdrops, four-on-the-floor bass drum patterns laid against syncopated toms and cowbell clicks. His live synth input colludes with his network of programmed sequences into a pulsing web of hardware and human presence, compounded by the wistful vocal contributions of Laura Jane Friedman on three of the album’s eight tracks. The brighter atmosphere of the tape’s A-side coasts through the tiered melodic cycles of “Lake Swim” and the benevolent sampled monologue of painting icon Bob Ross on “Bob Sway.” The lights dim for the B-side, which melts into the quivering synth leads and moaned vocalizations of “Slow Glide,” before the anthemic “Twilight Dome” blows the roof off with a thick, organ-led groove augmented by Owens’ guitar work. “Dry Heat” caps off the tape with an extended excursion into deep house territory, animated by bone-thick bass runs and an incessant hi-hat click that frames cascading vocal figures. Pop Light and Dark‘s physical incarnation, with artwork by Chicago-based wunderkind Sam Nigrosh (Grasshopper, Oozing Wound) and HausMo co-founder Max Allison, into the tape deck of your Jetsons-style floating pad and sink into the cushions for a while as Potions takes the controls.