Released back in June by Katuktu Collective on limited run cassettes and digital download, Jesse Kapp’s debut as Touch Test offers a shadowy narrative to ponder life’s cyclical coming together/falling apart. The blustering “New Teeth” has an incredibly swift build up. Warm, yet piercing electronics shape the base while heavy, industrial percussion construct the walls. Melodic keys decorate the interior, but the vibrations and incessant drumming eventually tear down what it helped create. “Get Well Soon” pounds straight into 4/4 time with an ever present kick drum, clanking downbeat, and the swiping of a brush. The background’s rhythm pulses, Middle Eastern melodies scatter in and out, and the reflective layering stretches across the void. This dark European house music is not something to go clubbing to; rather, hole up inside the confines of some sacred space. Side A ends with “Strays”, a tranquil, looped drone that directs one into something sacred and affirming; each step necessary, all parts working together.
The variation on Touch Test continues into Side B. “Reinstatement” fires malleable bass and sticky drums. The melody is airy and maneuvers around voices and a catchy fluttering flute. Guitars begin to jam and fuse until the sound vanishes. “Balance the Hand of Glory” arises less music oriented and more about pinpointing an expression or flickering thought. Kapp threads whirling loops and showcases the wonderful drone properties of an oboe before revealing the melody map. He seasons the background hums and creaks with otherworldly voices. “Anticipatory Nostalgia” rows the final vessel by way of heartbeat drumming and a voice narrating unsettling moments. The rhythmic, typewriter rattling is joined with a subtle drift, moving the listener at the speed of inches, while a litany of woodwinds lifts and reveals a new way to feel.
Expansive, yet accessible, Touch Test personally places a variety of musical touchstones without succumbing to genre pasting. Kapp offers an inspired collection of songs, zeroing in as an unhurried sound sculptor. His deviation between songs feels like an intentional assessment between sounds and transitions, yet his touch remains guiding and felt.