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ACT! - Strange Bounty / About Life

Halocline Trance

  • £14.38

Format: LP
Catalogue No.: HTRA030
Barcode: 5051142010186
Release Date: 10 Jun 2022
Genre: Ambient/Experimental

On June 10th, Toronto-based musician and producer David Psutka aka ACT! (fka Egyptrixx / Anamai / Ceramic TL) will release his latest project ‘Strange Bounty / About Life’ for his own Halocline Trance imprint.

‘Strange Bounty / About Life’ is Psutka’s debut album proper as ACT! following the release of the “sonic mixtape” ‘Universalist’ in 2018 and the augmented reality soundtrack ‘Grey Matter AR’ in 2021; a series of Snapchat filters created by artist Karen Vanderborght and soundtracked by ACT! which explored the poetic and existential potential of AR and social media.

The new album represents a refinement of aesthetic and compositional ideas that exist across Psutka’s various projects and collaborations. It is a bold blend of new psychedelia braided with ecstatic groove. It’s a collage of physical sound, composition and freeform electronics that is simultaneously original, bold, and balmy whilst retaining a certain timeless familiarity and the obvious, indelible hallmarks of Psutka’s creative vision.

“‘Strange Bounty / About Life’ is in some ways my most refined record. The previous period of solo material was quite experimental and spontaneous, whereas this was written slowly and with more intentionality, and as a result, feels very clarified. Robin Dann of Bernice, and Alanna Stuart of Bonjay both contributed lovely vocal work to the record and it was written and performed primarily on guitar. I think it is fair to call this an 'experimental guitar record'.” David Psutka (ACT!)

On opener ‘Oblivion Shuffle’ synths trickle and squelch beneath vintage arcade bleeps, an off-kilter rhythm and mournful vocals. The palette of faintly dystopian electronics, unnerving ambience and scorched, wonky rhythmic pulses reoccur across the album on tracks like ‘Separation Code Is Togetherness Meta’, ’50 Million Motives For Making’, ‘Peace Javelin Heaven Bound’ and ‘Street Racer’.

Elsewhere on the record the guitar is more obviously prominent, and its presence allows the thematic subtleties of ACT’s music to flourish. It becomes clear after numerous listens that there is a push and pull at play across the whole project; one of optimism vs existentialism, of anxiety vs hope - a consistent theme of Psutka’s back catalogue. The track titles themselves even begin to reveal juxtaposition contained within and a deeper inspection of the lyrics reveals more.

‘Lotto’ and ‘Rebuild Your Body’ and title track, ‘Strange Bounty / About Life’ all feature slick classic soul hooks, silky vocals and smooth Balearic guitar licks over the idiosyncratic beats and distinctive electronic instrumentation. A perfect melding of the two seemingly disparate stylistic directions on the album. A real testament to the refinement promised by Psutka on this project.

In addition to ACT!, Psutka has released music with numerous projects including Anamai, Egyptrixx and Ceramic TL, he has collaborated widely with artists such as Junior Boys, Ipek Gorgun, and Kuedo as well as Jessy Lanza (2016) and an official remix for Massive Attack’s ‘Hymn of the Big Wheel (2012). The contributions on this album, from Robin Dann and Alanna Stuart, reflect the deeply collaborative nature of the Halocline Trance label and the Toronto creative scene more broadly.

Many of Psutka’s releases have received critical acclaim from media outlets such as Pitchfork, Exclaim, The Quietus and Resident Advisor. As a live performer, he has toured extensively including performing at Sonar Festival, Roskilde, Mutek, MOMA PS1 Warm-UP and CTM Festival. He’s also presented sound installations at various institutions such as Galeria Civica Commune di Modena, and Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

In 2015, Psutka launched Halocline Trance as a home for his various sound projects, events and collaborations. Now a creative collective and label, it has grown to include a diverse array of artists including Casey MQ, Xuan Ye, Myst Milano, Colin Fisher and others. The label is described as “genre-agnostic” and conceptually open, supporting work across a wide spectrum of creative fields including soundtrack recording, AR design and traditional artist albums. Their impeccable roster also includes, theorist/improviser Eldritch Priest, and AR/VR artist Karen Vanderborght. In recent years, Halocline Trance has established itself as a platform that facilitates many of Canada’s most exciting creative music projects. Many of the releases have received critical acclaim from outlets including Pitchfork, Exclaim, Bandcamp and Resident Advisor.

1. Oblivion Shuffle
2. Separation Code is Togetherness Meta
3. Lotto
4. 50 Million Motives for Making
5. Strange Bounty / About Life

1. All the Static in the World be a Softness in my Heart
2. Rebuild Your Body
3. Peace Javelin Heaven Bound
4. Street Racer


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