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Album of the Month: White Rainbow

Sand Quality & Every Answer from White Rainbow.

It’s taken eons to evolve into a world that’s ready for White Rainbow. Finally, here we are, languishing in a protracted cultural interim between where we were and where we’re heading, arrested by the multiple ways our selves can occupy the fleeting present. A present so anxious, restless and mediated demands anxious, restless, mediated art—art for the sake of #art. It demands White Rainbow.

White Rainbow is one guy, but 37-year-old Adam Forkner contains multitudes. He’s recorded under a slew of aliases for more than a decade and as White Rainbow since the early ’00s. Starting in 2010, Forkner has released free-to-stream recordings via Bandcamp every few months. These collections—they exist only digitally, so to call them “records” or “albums” feels quaint—range from post-crunk hip-hop to thomping electro to bleep-bloopy minimalist experiments to extended psych-rock jams in which Forkner plays every instrument.

(When Forkner takes White Rainbow into meatspace, he commands an unforgettable physical presence. Hirsute and wildly animated, he plays over a crowded stack of drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers. He dances like a sadhu and shreds bitching, pitch-shifted synth solos: Forkner is the Jimi Hendrix of tiny keyboards, an icon-apparent in need of a Woodstock.)

His latest collection is a prog-techno opus. Released in June, Sand Quality & Every Answer comprises nine slowly condensing compositions and dabbles in all the interesting subgenres and textures of the moment.

The opener, “Be the Dancer Be the Dreamer,” plays like a neon-on-chrome joyride through a sci-fi fantasy landscape, seven minutes of friction-free motion, with filtery vocals floating above a stuttered beat. It’s a pop song roaming through cyberspacious Paradise. Track two, “Reeses Delux Stack Fever Dream Theory Version,” is delicate and deliberate, simply an electronic finger snap that echoes alongside an anticipatory, syncopated synth line—for 16 luscious minutes. Repetition builds a sense of impending destination, though we’re traveling within an especially groovy train car, so, like, no big deal if we get there or not. Like meditation, the song ends almost exactly as it began, and you feel less tense for going through the process.

Directly after, “Sunday Drivers Pt 2” is concise, all buoyant, summertime vibe and sentimental melody. “Got My Dans on but They Look Like ‘Bad Sneakers’” begins with dark, minimal-techno bass and synth and veers into a wispy twist of Reggaeton rhythm halfway through before crumbling into hypnotic electronic percussion. “Trashed Hearts Five and Dime” shares a similar, chanty vocal sample and takes a direct route to trappy, tic-tic-tic Roland 808 territory. “Shorty Wants It All Tho” bumps and flutters on a gaudy synthesizer melody that suggests the maximalism of production hotshots Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. Closer “Batum Heat Check” is abstract, diffuse and somber.

Word is Forkner recently migrated from Portland to LA. Forkner’ll fit in nicely among the progressive beat-music scene there. He’ll also stand out, because that’s what he does.

 

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