The milkman

310, the band formed by New Yorker Tim Donovan and Seattle-based Joseph Dierker, are quietly celebrating ten years at the helm of their good ship with their latest album, Sixes And Sevens, released on Conduit Records, the title perhaps a semi-hidden reference to the fact that, their 2001 effort Nothing To See Here being a strictly limited affair, this album, their seventh, is only the sixth to received a high profile release. The pair’s debut album, Aug 56, was released a whole ten years ago on their own imprint, and their sophomore effort, Snorklehouse, followed a year later, firmly establishing their blend of ambient, found sounds, hip-hop-infused beats and melodic electronic music.

Released on Conduit Records, a label based, like the band, partly in New York and partly in Seattle, Sixes And Sevens undeniably bears the 310 stamp, but, unlike its predecessors, The Dirty Rope (1999), After All (2001) and Recessional (2003), Dierker and Donovan have produced an entirely instrumental record. The only vocal instances here are the band’s traditional samples making reference to their names. While long term contributor Andrew Siegler, aka Fire/Fly, is not present here, Dierker and Donovan have once again called upon a handful of collaborators. Ralph Rolle provides live drums on seven of the ten tracks collected here, giving pieces such as High And Tight or U Bastard increased relief, while a more subtle approach also adds to Radiator or King Summer. Turntablist Ali Shaheed Muhammad and trumpeter John Mulkerin provide additional textures on opener Fortuitous Bounce, the former by rooting the piece firmly in hip-hop territory, and the latter by giving the piece a jazzy sheen.

Paul Umbach adds to the menacing overtones of Black Acres by applying somber cello brushes, while the slow funk of Freedom Connection is given a slight Eastern European touch by violinist Mary Gross. Elsewhere, it is down to Dierken and Donovan to shape their environment by developing their familiar brew of acoustic, electric and electronic instrumentation, and refine the many contours of the music with found sounds and samples. The 310 sound has, over the years, become more sophisticated, but behind the melodies and layered orchestrations remain the hazy atmospheric backdrops and stunning ambient formations which have been integrant part of their work. Although not quite as exposed here as they were on Recessional, the moody meanders that build in the distance on Black Acres, Radiator or Track 8 convey much of the emotional turmoil of this record.

310 pack so much in their records that each listen invariably reveals new elements. Sixes And Sevens is no different. Brimming with sumptuous textures, gorgeous melodies and haunting atmospherics, this album is once again an impressive effort. In the ten years since they first appeared, 310 have forged a truly unique sound, with each new record adding to the band’s sonic riches. Impeccably deployed across Sixes And Sevens, these appear as bright and appealing as ever.

 
67
Sixes and Sevens