MP3: The Electric Nature – “Plastic Mind”

The Electric Nature - Junk

For most artists, saying that they’re putting out a collection of rare or unreleased material is really a codeword for: “I wrote a bunch of really shitty songs back in the day that I didn’t want to release because I thought they blew ass and people would hate them, but, hey, things are kind of slow right now and I did spend all that time working on them, so here you go—a bunch of shitty songs.” And yes, I know there is a litany of b-sides and rarities collections from any number of artists that totally kick ass and are worth every penny you spend on them, but the truth is that those recordings are the exception. Most of the time listening to unreleased material is like having your earholes raped by a pencil. It SUCKS.

So you can understand my apprehension when I first listened to Junk, a new collection of unreleased material circa 2008-2011 from drone experimentalist, the Electric Nature. If you know anything about Michael Potter and his music, you know that it’s oftentimes dense and difficult, built upon expansive, densely-layered soundscapes, bits and fragments of obscure sounds, and the occasional splash of abstract pop, rock or folk music to help wash it all down. It’s remarkably ambitious stuff, the kind of music that requires a patient and committed audience willing to follow Potter on his extended flights of fantasy. So listening to a bunch of songs where he presumably works out the kinks to his decidedly singular and warped aesthetic would seem to have all the appeal of, say, drinking bleach or getting a prison tat, right?

Can you guess where all this is leading yet? Simply put, Junk is the Electric Nature’s most accessible and digestible work to date. With only a few exceptions, the songs here hover around the three-to-four minute mark, the going standard for your average pop radio fare. And while you can definitely hear Potter’s guiding hand in all of it, many of tracks feel buoyant and upbeat, driven as much by whimsy and the desire to have a little fun as they are by the need to explore and deconstruct genres. One of my favorite tracks so far is “Plastic Mind,” a spry electronic jam that hurdles forward at a headlong pace before settling into a steady rumble with some arresting ebbs and flows. Check it out below and then head over to Bandcamp where you can download the entire album for whatever price you choose.

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