Inimitable producer Odd Nosdam returns with Pretty Swell Explode, an enhanced two-disc collection (one album, one EP) of remixes, B-sides, videos, and original songs, including eight tracks entirely exclusive to this set. Here Nosdam compiles the odds and ends created mostly around his last two full-lengths (2005’s Burner and last year’s Level Live Wires), as well as a few choice gems from bygone days.
The first disc is bombastic and beat-blown, and well displays Nosdam’s impressive range as a remix artist. Two of the record’s strongest pieces are remixes created solely for this project. “(growin’ up in the Hood) Four Thousand Style” is Nosdam’s electric tribute to Leeds cult heroes Hood (fronted by Chris Adams, who records for Anticon as Bracken). A year of work and various snippets from the Hood catalogue went into the crunchy, spooked-out opus, with Adams’s words disembodied and scrambled into the heaving song body. On “Forever Heavy (shoegangter/JB remix),” Nosdam actually recreates a Black Moth Super Rainbow original from scratch. Drum machine maestro Jel (Subtle/Themselves) adds a few pounds and Flying Saucer Attack collaborator Jessica Bailiff sings ghostly overtop, recalling Stereolab caught in a heavy swirl of fuzz, grind, and unusual beauty. In fact, Bailiff’s voice is a binding element of Pretty Swell Explode’s first half, a compilation that plays like a true album.
The second disc is Nosdam’s ambient EP, exchanging drums and voice for the fuzzy warmth of eight-track cassete composition. Burner-era B-side “My Prayer Rug” rocks a slow and steady crystalline stomp that morphs into the blissed-out record-skip trip of “Bear Hug” (exhumed from the cLOUDDEAD days) before reaching the nine-minute, four-chambered remix suite, “Dayvan Cowboy,” originally by Boards of Canada. This hard-fought multi-movement reinvention moves between intensity and quiet like seasons or the sea (and an unused selection from this remix, “D C (bit)” can be found on disc one.) Fittingly, “20th” carries the listener to the record’s finish on a broad swell.
Accompanying these blasted sounds are three videos. Recent single “Kill Tone” (from Level Live Wires) is given a suitably exuberant treatment courtesy of Ravi Zupa; Skhoinarion weaves a kaleidoscopic collage to the “Dayvan Cowboy” remix (originally an unsolicited YouTube video); Spencer Williams, one-half of Portland ambient duo Drape, constructs a slow rain of Fourth-worthy fireworks display around Burner’s “Clouded.” The limited vinyl edition of Pretty Swell Explode also includes a hidden unreleased version of Nosdam’s Lee Perry-inspired “Upsetter.”