Joel Shanahan, known to many as Golden Donna, weaves new worlds out of air pressure and a touch of joy. He might not quite get you to dance or bring you to tears, but he sure as hell can make a synthesizer sing. Drawing as much from the space-age mysticism and cinematic gravitas of classic electronic artists like Tangerine Dream and cutting edge experimental hip-hop, Shanahan’s ambitions know no bounds, but the sheer fun and passion of it all welcomes the uninitiated listener like nothing else out there.
Shanahan premieres “Laurelhurst” from his upcoming double-tape release for Ratskin Records, Frozen Clock Hovering. The sprawling, ambitious work draws on Shanahan’s feelings of futility, lingering trauma, and heartbreak, but the listener feels a whirlwind of fractured personalities that obscure Shanahan’s true self—or belie the artist on an endless search for it. “Laurelhurst” drags us through a dust-storm of atonal muck, only to drop us halfway through in an alien landscape of kosmische synthesizer meditations, switching on a dime from space and silence to speed and noise.
When the full album is released, you’ll be treated to a Golden Donna remix of the track to close out the record—but as you’ll recall, Golden Donna is just one of Shanahan’s many alter-egos. In this case, it’s his effortlessly cool and gently sophisticated techno side that emerges, but not after a bewildering romp through abstract club music and impressionistic sound poetry. Shanahan’s sound leaves no single conceptual peg on which to hang your hat, but it’s a challenging swing through his personal jungle.