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La: No No (Software)

most noteworthy aspect of Co La’s No No is just how fucking weird it
is. That’s not to say it’s unlistenable, but it’s been a while since
something has taken me by surprise like this. “Squeeze” lets it
be known immediately that this will be a bumpy ride. Even as the
entire alphabet is recited in French, its potential for silliness is
overwhelmed by the disorienting stop-start rhythm and weird
juxtaposition of sounds and sources. It has all of the playfulness of
vintage Nurse With Wound but within a far more rhythmic context, like
someone remixed A Sucked Orange into a set of anti-jams. It hits all
the right spots in the same way that Vessel’s Punish, Honey did last
year, often sharp and disjointed and crude at times, but sounding
unlike anything I’ve really heard before. “Shrink” sounds like a
toy store gone ape shit, with spritely piano samples and a bulbous,
syncopated bass throb; it reminds me of the French film Delicatessen
at its most over the top. Most of the time, though, No No clatters
with crashing percussive stabs, abrupt samples, and goofy noises.
It’s a frenzied amalgamation of sampled objects and pop detritus, cut apart and sequenced with abandon. It walks the line
between captivating and annoying, and listeners short on patience
might want to come back to it at another time, as I did. With the
right temperament, however, No No is a fascinating listen with only
minimal breathing room (the sax trail that ends “Gush,” for
example, is a rare and brief respite).

This scattershot approach to
stringing together samples, beats, and noises so rapid-fire seems
appropriate for an album titled No No, as if Co La auteur Matt
Papich knows better but can’t help himself. The title track itself
hangs on a percussive refrain that sounds like someone banging on
metal can until a warped sprawl of industrial noise overruns it, once
again walking that line between something fascinating and annoying.
“Noon (Blue)”’s punctuating reed toots feel like jazz turned
sideways, peppered with machine gun snare fills and radio chatter, as
good a representation of the sonic sprawl of No No as any other cut
here. It all feels like a strange carnival, splitting the difference
between a toy box and a wood shop, evidenced yet again on “Crank,”
a cut that sounds like grime as MC’d by the doll from Saw and
surrounded by a scattered array of rims, taps, clinks, and glass.

It could all be merely obnoxious if not for Papich’s talent for sequence
and editing, which is tightly honed here. It’s not to say that he
doesn’t at times tip the balance into “too much” — if anything,
“too much” is his modus operandi — but most of the time I find
No No to be a fun cyclone of rhythm and noise, with a distinct
personality of its own and a sense of humor that is perhaps as relentless as
it is droll.

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