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Sam Prekop and John McEntire "Sons Of"

Sam Prekop and John McEntire are two artists, who together and as individuals, have expanded the definition of rock. Each is acclaimed for their singular musical voice and for their sonic innovations. Beyond their work together in The Sea and Cake, Prekop has garnered acclaim for his solo releases in ensemble or on modular synthesis, as well as for his visual art and photography. McEntire is one of the most celebrated engineers, composers, and drummers in forward-thinking music. With nearly three decades of experience working together, this is their first full-length collaboration as a duo. It was something they both have wanted to do for a long while, and a natural fit for two artists drawn to incorporating electronic music into rock and jazz contexts. Sons Of finds two master craftsmen working at the nexus of pristine production and skillful improvisation, forging compelling narrative arcs into glistening metropolises of infinite pulse.

Sons Of is as sonically curious as it is inviting. The elaborate array of synthesizer modules, samplers, trigger pads and effects which the duo implement all serve as potent tools in unearthing unique textures and untapped worlds of possibility. Over the album’s four pieces Prekop and McEntire apply their intrinsic understanding of pop architectures to create dynamic movements. Their sound is one of transformative fluidity, each passing beat marking a sense of familiarity while the surrounding atmospheres are in constant flux. A steady pace to the tracks allows space for new sounds to breathe and evolve. Ever-shifting tonalities and magnetic grooves propel the music with persistent momentum without feeling hurried. Throughout the album, the duo exudes a spontaneous ease, unafraid to settle into a particular cadence or veer into entirely new directions on a dime.

The duo’s collaboration first took shape across a series of shows in Europe during the fall of 2019, all entirely improvised. Prekop and McEntire set themselves basic parameters such as tempo and key center and allowed their instruments to intertwine freely, tempered by their deft instincts as improvisers and listeners. “A Ghost at Noon” is taken from one of these early performances and illuminates how immediately in-sync the two were, with Prekop’s The Republic-era hiss slipping beneath melodic twirls in tandem with the bounce of McEntire’s increasingly rhythmic complex percussion. Tracks “Crossing at The Shallow” and “Ascending By Night” move with the same inquisitive grace despite being molded through remote collaboration with Prekop and McEntire respectively sending each other the base of one track and allowing the other the space to react to the whole. The album’s most expansive piece “A Yellow Robe” began as an improvised performance at Chicago’s Constellation in late 2021. Originally intended to be presented as purely improvisational, technical issues in the recording created an opportunity for the duo to step back to refine the sonics and employ finer details while retaining the narrative flow of the live performance. The resulting epic contains multitudes, from head-nodding throb to springy glitches and moments of euphoric bliss.

Prekop and McEntire’s Sons Of is a thrillingly diverse journey and a masterclass in longform music that reveals nuance at each listen. By concentrating their considerable skills as both creators and curators, the duo have crafted an album abundantly vibrant, an intoxicating exploration of pure inspiration and intuition.

Thrill Jockey