The scope of Robert Beatty’s hydra-headed art practice has grown into an extreme articulation of unconfined creativity across multiple disciplines. A founding member of 2000′s noise outfit Hair Police, as well as visionary illustrator and album-art designer for many of this era’s most celebrated underground artists, Robert Beatty records his solo work under the name Three Legged Race. Come May 27th, 2014, Three Legged Race will release the first volume of Rope Commercial, a planned series of EPs premiering through the label Underwater Peoples.
Rope Commercial Vol. 1 will be the first Three Legged Race record since 2012′s acclaimed Persuasive Barrier (Spectrum Spools / Editions Mego) and Beatty’s follow up to last year’s video score collection, Soundtracks for Takeshi Murata (Glistening Examples, 2013). Where those records take charge in a paradigm of collaged synth melodies, fragmented samples and twitching textures, Rope Commercial is more unsettling. Rope Commercial Vol. 1 delivers claustrophobic geometries, intensely disfigured narratives, and genre-free experimentation.
Beatty’s recent celebrated performances as Three Legged Race abandoned prior synthesizer-dependent set-ups in favor of an intentionally dematerialized approach, employing just a sequencer program in an iPhone, and a lone tape machine. Conceptually, Beatty was defiantly shrugging off the fetishized hardware-oriented model so rampant in current electronic music discourse, and this became the inspiration to create Rope Commercial. Beatty stepped even further in recording Rope Commercial Vol. 1 however, adding acoustic instruments, (dulcimer and piano), and thoroughly processing sampled elements to warp the whole into un-recognizable dimensions.
Importantly, Rope Commercial Vol. 1 will be outfitted in a picture-disc of a classic Beatty vision. In a creamy neon-green urban landscape, the face of a humanoid figure is merged with a screen of a smartphone, its consciousness fused to the glass. Dangling from the phone is one leg outfitted in a woman’s heel, presumably its sole means of transport. These kind of pathetic cyborg figures in states of physical flux frequently appear in Beatty’s art. They function neatly as windows into Beatty’s music as well, with its electronically marred voices and barren sonic spaces. These figures are Beatty’s torpid avatars, in his music and art both, their humanism is strained by a confounding digital synergy.
Aptly, the picture-disc is a perfect setting for Beatty’s airbrush work, his favored rendering tool, and the general modus operandi of Beatty’s electronic music as Three Legged Race. In all, Beatty renews obsolete materials discarded from a voracious commercial culture, and employs them in strangely poignant contexts. In Rope Commercial Vol. 1, such found samples are diced and strewn into uneasy chapters. There is the dizzying, terse “All Ajax Dial”, the interplanetary gale of “Aside From Each Other and Together Overnight”, the faintly whirring “New Government”, the white noise of “The Humidity Mascot” and perhaps Beatty’s motif-to-be “Rope Commercial.” In this title track alone, something of the whole EP is condensed: intentionally un-heroic melodies plod out over a darkly redundant groove and voices are haltered in the instance of utterance. Its electronic music most overtly, but defrocked of its sheen, with any conceivable hallmark of commercialism littered on the gravel.
1. All Ajax Dial
2. Aside From Each Other and Together Overnight
3. New Government
4. The Humidity Mascot
5. Rope Commercial