Initially intended as a kind of time capsule to be launched to sea in an impermeable container invented by Boron‘s Dan Nelson, Adderall Canyonly‘s latest now sees the light of day in a slightly less exclusive issue of 50 cassettes courtesy of Tymbal Tapes. A compilation of sorts, tacked together to play as a single hour-long track, it spins out as a distillation of everything that has made Adderall Canyonly such an enduring project since its debut at the start of the last decade. But it also contains less typical elements that hint at exciting directions perhaps not embraced as fully as they could have been, forging Sadnessorzzz11one its own unique nook in the artist’s repertoire.
As is typical with much of this mysterious project’s catalogue, there’s a lot of backstory to Sadnessorzzz11one that may or may not be completely fictional. Talk of hidden ciphers within the track titles (which have, incidentally, been “lost to time”) and perhaps running backwards throughout the tracks themselves sails adjacent to the PR campaign’s evocative conte de la mer – it is all, as Tymbal Tapes cryptically suggest, up to the listener to decode.
That the music was recorded over several years does ring believable, as at times it is possible to connect snippets here with previous tapes in the Adderall Canyonly collection. From the metallic ambience of early work such as Asuuna to Lucid in a Wasted Way‘s post-rock stylings and the middle-era skronked up carnivàle romance of Between The Rays Lies Fear But Also Joy, almost all of what Adderall Canyonly has put his hands to is represented at some point. That said, I know for a fact AdCan’s music can do the rounds for a long time before it is permitted to set sail (I heard tracks from Lucid… a good year or so before Null Zone put them out, for example) so if chronology has anything to do with the work’s supposed code – an ocean-bound autobiography, let’s say – then it’s securely in the Chronicles: Volume One camp in that regard.
Rather fittingly for the times we find ourselves living through, the tape opens with the sound of someone coughing. From there it eases out of a slow sci-fi march into some surprisingly heavy feedback before taking its first abrupt left turn. Sadnessorzzz11one makes use of vocal samples more often than perhaps any other AdCan release I know, at least since the very early days and the guitar-heavy Transmissions of the Faint Hearted, which built an entire track around an answerphone ramble; here they are used both to demarcate where one track ends and another begins and in surprisingly forthright ways during individual tracks themselves. It is, in fact, a rare track here that does not involve some unknown source repeating ominously beneath sparking blankets of dying technology.
It is not until around the 22 minute mark that Sadnessorzzz11one first hits its stride, with many of its component parts to this point too short-lived to land with much weight. Here the hoots and grumbles of what sounds like an angrily enthusiastic martial artist flail humorously back against an interstellar tide, eventually capitulating under disarmingly pretty waves. The next real highlight, and possibly the tape’s zenith, comes a shade after 34 minutes. It runs in hypnotic Between the Rays… mode for a good stretch and then cranks up into a full-on dance party to close things off – still, unlike elsewhere, AdCan manages here to keep things relatively smooth and it may even be possible to connect enough dots to chart an almost unadulterated path to the end, all the while maintaining the same level of diversity. The 45 minute mark sees things get slow and kind of sultry before you realise you’re listening to the final scene in the life of a failing robot, guitars reemerge for an almost GY!BE-style crescendo at one stage, and, typical of this restless and somewhat uneven release, it all ends with a fart noise.
Had Sadnessorzzz11one been launched to sea as was supposedly intended, its doubtful many but the most hardcore of Adderall Canyonly fans would have missed it. That’s not to say it isn’t without its charms, but it doesn’t allow anything to stick around long enough or often enough to properly cohere. As it stands it sounds to me like Voyager’s golden record might sound to an alien race – a curious sonic introduction to a planet so full of euphonious wonders it cannot possibly be expressed sufficiently in such compilatory fashion. With any luck Sadnessorzzz11one will pique enough interest in the artist’s wide and varied sound world to tempt unfamiliar travellers into closer inspection.