Let’s not kid ourselves: most local bands will never see coverage outside their hometown. And networking may play a part in that, but if ya don’t have anything new to offer the journalist that listens to ten new albums a day, then you’re out of luck, son.
However, Garrett Burke should turn some heads. By night, he drums for ambitious bands like Jock Gang and Tug; by day, he’s Isaak Pancake, the most bizarre drum and bass project you’ve ever heard this side of London.
Now, when I say “drum and bass,” you’ve likely got a template already in your head: impossible snare batteries, bodacious drops, twisted vocals, and so forth. But this Pancake was cast in a different mold. On DRUMS OLO, Burke deals damage with a blinding array of custom midi effects that ricochet like pinballs between rudiments on his own analogue (i.e. real) drums. Alien wails warp and stutter in intricate weaves on “Blind Ate;” a blitz of blips spirals down the void with Burke’s insane drumming on “Medium.” The results recall the harrowing netherworlds of Brood Ma, the abstract assaults of Container, and other modern cerebral works meant for the racing mind rather than the raving body.
And while DRUMS OLO may lacerate your eardrums at times, Burke isn’t a cold-blooded killer, either. Like the aforementioned Container, Isaak Pancake deconstructs his bangers with impish glee — like on “Performance and Reliability,” a one-minute marathon through an electronic drum machine, or the crunchy marching cadence of “Sweet Song.” That levity saves Burke from slavish imitation; rather than just flexing bass-heavy muscles for the sake of utter annihilation, Burke razes earth to claim a new territory.
Indeed, by the time the album closes on the stark, fog-drenched “Olo,” Burke has definitely napalmed a niche for himself in the dark forest of power electronics. Here’s hoping that Isaak Pancake can break out of the ATL soon.
DRUMS OLO is out today and available via Bandcamp.