Review: Touch Test — ‘October Blue’

Under the fairly new guise of Touch Test, Jesse Kapp is masterfully pacing his next move. On the heels of last year’s noteworthy self-titled cassette, Kapp’s newest for Katuktu Collective, October Blue, illustrates his deft ear for cinematics, sound scouting, and a cerebral ‘touch’ destined for a grand opus.

While the film October Blue, won’t be resurrected and finished anytime soon, Kapp’s dizzying recordings don’t require a visual counterpart. “The Ballad of Al & Dave” unnerves and spills an anxious story with steady, percussive drips. “Let’s Go” has the hurry of Steve Reich’s Octet: Music For a Large Ensemble and delay/dissolving echoes typically found on Matthew Barnes’s Forest Swords recordings. Kapp’s pulsing clatter, bustling bass, and Mark Margolies’s clarinet, give way to a shimmery kaleidoscope of ambient patches and organic reverberations.

The plot thickens on “Two Lane 2 AM” as sounds pedal deep into the dark. The plucked and struck chords meander into a buzzing zap of layered cup stacking, tipped over by electric waves. “Call Me Back” follows with answering machine nicks and dabbles into gentle horror. Foreboding synths and spaced out, explosive guitar notes fuse into warnings.

Side B turns with the cleverly titled “Laundromat”. Its spin cycle rhythm and minimal, yet exhaustive tempo evokes a hypnotized, unable to turn away sensation. As the song progresses, the moisture seems to collect. The metaphorical fibers and linens are unrecognizable. “Now or Never” transports to an industrial setting. Hard to imprint, Kapp, applies generous drone to overpower the curious forms. The heaviness and ominously growing hum spawns too big for its space. Sounds cleverly dissolve from over consumption.

Kapp’s percussive pauses and keen balance between produced sounds and natural shaking/pounding loom especially large. Knowing the film’s turbulent pulse is obvious by Kapp’s use of manipulative percussion and fringe branched drones. The perceived violence shakes and scratches on every track, but Kapp’s stunning spacing and patience somehow offer respite.  

The uplifting “Calling Prelude” subtracts the chills. Kapp’s large, sweeping choruses cast and hook better times ahead. Closer, “I Hear You Calling (Theme from October Blue)”, restores some of the menacing, yet adventurous flare. Temperate synths jab and lift, whisking listeners away from the mall storefronts and predictable Saturdays, into an elsewhere voyage.

The songs on October Blue, even without any filmic background, fit a brooding tale. Kapp fleeces saturated valley months, extracting suburbia’s dark and delicate corners with a secure cabling of rooted drones, lifting guitars and unforeseen horns. October Blue canvases flickering memories, both shady and solved, with a heady stare and desire beyond.

(Check out ‘October Blue below via Bandcamp and get more info about Touch Test HERE.)