[PLATINUM IMPROV] It's not whether these sounds are fitted together right, it's just that they're fitted together. Golden Retriever, comprising locals Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet and Matt Carlson on synthesizer, isn't investigating the possibility of some new musical landscape. This is well-trodden experimental territory.
Don Cherry and Terry Riley jamming together won't necessarily come to mind after taking a listen to Seer, Golden Retriever's second effort for Chicago's Thrill Jockey Records, but the approach is just about the same, with Sielaff's horn accents underscoring Carlson's contemplative key plunking. Despite the band's approach being just about the same from release to release, Seer sounds spacey in a way different from 2012's pulsing Occupied With the Unspoken or the occasionally heroic Light Cones from 2011. An unseemly undercurrent pushes at what otherwise would be New Age-y tactics on "Archipelago," all slight and summery at the outset, then picking up speed and tension along the way before decaying to a conclusion.
Nothing here approaches Carlson's solo endeavors—either the pop-affiliated works or those more anarchic compositions—but when a mass of sound emerges from all the duo's noodling, Golden Retriever is capable of music that's substantial and heavy, like a portent-filled, humid morning. At its best, it's all an extension of Mills College experimentalism. At its worst, Golden Retriever's collection of ideas is teeming with possibility that has yet to be pristinely arranged. .
SEE IT: Golden Retriever plays Holocene, 1001 SW Morrison St., with Litanic Mask, Valet and Pinhead In Fantasia, on Sunday, April 6. 8:30 pm. $6. 21+.