After a majority of his solo albums have featured cover art consisting of black and white sketches and eerie collages, the cartoony, sexualized cover art for Eric Copeland’s Joke In The Hole is just the beginning of the LP’s flamboyant step in another direction. That said, anyone familiar with the Brooklynite’s main band won’t find that step jarring, but somewhat closer to the weirdo tropical club jams of Black Dice’s recent work.
This latest solo album finds its grooves by layering charred found sound loops, beats, and vocal samples twisted until they’re nearly unrecognizable. Copeland seems to layer and layer until something makes sense, take a few strata away, and then build back up with the next set of recordings seemingly taken from over-stretched VHS tape, busted synths, and third-hand, scratched reggae vinyl, as on opener “Rokzi”.
Later, “Grapes” takes another tack, a funky combination of jumpy guitar samples, a rolling rhythmic bed, and what sounds like looped repetitions of the phrase “yeah, yeah” at different speeds and panned placements. A tinny cowbell enters from time to time, giving some alteration to the formula, but most of the work is done by Copeland slowly twisting the dials, letting his changes articulate and impact in long form.
There’s a funhouse quality to Joke in the Hole, Copeland leading you down the pathways of tracks like “Flushing Meats”, where seemingly stable pinging patterns start to warp out of focus, or on “Babes in the Woods” where samples begin to echo and mirror themselves. Or perhaps it’s a tie-dyed MC Escher print, as on “Tinkerbell” where the ceiling of rippling alt percussion twitches suddenly becomes the track’s floor.
While this album shares a lot of qualities with the likes of Mr. Impossible, its straight to the jugular strike at being a groovy good time comes off a little less polished. Joke in the Hole might show the lines blurring between “Eric Copeland” and “Black Dice”, but not to the point that Copeland is saving his best stuff for himself.
Essential Tracks: “Grapes”, “Tinkerbell”