Nautical Almanac: Rooting for the Microbes
Somewhere, right now, a kid in America’s heartland just saw Nautical Almanac play, bought this CD, and is having his world irrevocably changed. Previously, he or she thought punk or rock or whatever had certain qualities—it was played with guitars, it was amplified, it had something akin to a beat that made him or her want to dance in place. Now, he or she is not only questioning that “definition” of music, but is also wondering if he or she is actually some highly evolved reptile. Rooting for the Microbes is yet another pothole in the path to describe the decade-long career of Nautical Almanac, here a collection of noisemakers gathered under the aegis of water-carvers Carly Ptak and Twig Harper. Created entirely on the homemade, human-powered contraptions Ptak and Harper Frankensteined in their West Baltimore home laboratory—as the CD proudly informs, “no computers or electricity were employed in the music making process”—Rooting takes contemporary noise back to the Cenozoic era, when we were first able to grasp and manipulate crap. Rooting’s 13 tracks—assaults whose titles, such as “Exterior Beater: Bluntly, Clumpy, Stumpy,” “Underlayment of Populist Skin: Bone Structure Dissolving,” and “1 Million Synapses Frying,” aptly convey their aural pleasures—are idea collisions that elude description; calling a sound “an electronically cut-up pulse” feels infelicitous given the instrumental parameters. Roots is a vocabulary of sounds vaguely familiar yet undeniably eardrum-washing new.