- As half of Gatekeeper, Aaron David Ross has been responsible for some seriously out-there music. As wild as those records often sounded, though, they always seemed to operate within their own logic. On Ross's latest solo release as ADR, his second album for PAN, that logic is given a more concrete conceptual form.
While Throat isn't the only electronic record to be made entirely of vocal samples—Kara-Lis Coverdale's A 480 and Björk's Medúlla come to mind—Ross seems to be making a useful point about the voice and its relation to pop music. After all, the voice is one of the most certain routes to emotionality in music. For all of Throat's experimentalism, it's a pop record at its core.
You can't sing along to many of the tracks; there are few identifiable words. But your mind could make phrases it wants to hear in the choruses of "Lost Ya," "No Sweat," "Effort" and "U Never." It's the kind of vocal science beloved in everything from Todd Edwards' cut-ups to the indiscriminate croons and heavy breathing of "Windowlicker." As amusing as the recognizable vocals sounds are—like the muffled tones of a faceless starlet in "Lost Ya," or "King David"'s backwards Auto-Tune taffy—they're baubles next to things like the punchy bass for "Advice" and "U Never" and the distinct drum sounds for "Severance."
Throat is an undeniably inventive album, but what makes it more than an exercise in production technique is Ross's ear for melody. In a parallel reality, he might be a star-making producer. "No Sweat" is the clearest indication of that, sounding like a sophisticated Britney B-side. But more often, as in the layered repetitions of "Every Node" or the choral counterpoint of "Advice," his classical training comes through. Ross clearly has both an irrepressibly fevered creativity and a love for pop music—just check out his tongue-in-cheek boy band HD Boyz. But whereas HD Boyz was a joke, Throat can feel slightly too serious. It may be just a stopping point on Ross's path of restless curiosity, but his pop-oriented work is clearly worth further investigation.
01. Every Node
02. Lost Ya
03. King David
04. No Sweat
08. U Never