A picture of Cleveland’s James Donadio holding up his pride and joy, a trusted drum machine, for a feature by The Quietus back in 2014 epitomises the honesty in the man’s work.
His latest album, Ghost Detergent, features a wildly eclectic range of sounds, hatched from seemingly as little equipment as on display in that same picture. The drums vary from lazy and bloated in ‘Pregnant Toad’, to fragmented and distorted in ‘Cheap Amplifiers’, to assertive and thunderous in ‘The Sting that Stung’. The pace of the album fluctuates from track to track, barely even staying set for a minute. Its grit gives it an endearingly dated quality which fits with Donadio’s range of 80s influences – just look at ‘Skeptalepsy’, there are elements of hardcore alongside a whining electro spiral and an acid squelch.
Although a nostalgic touch is nothing original, Donadio intersperses the cliched effects with his playful use of indefinable sounds. Normally when something as beatless, overwhelming, and belligerent as Ghost Detergent slaps us in the face it should be an uncomfortable experience, instead it only comes across as brilliantly animated. ‘Fake Hawaiian Suits’, the album’s penultimate track, reinforces this charm with its arrogant and casually flamboyant strut.
Where Kyle Hall’s ‘From Joy’ received praise this year for being enjoyable in its honest and playful nature, so should Donadio’s ‘Ghost Detergent’. The haphazard, experimental incline of the LP should only be seen as an added perk and, in comparison to his last, Petit Cochon, he’s traded it in to make room for more extrovert music.
Ghost Detergent is out now on Spectrum Spools. Grab it here.
Words: Joe Mills