Pure Rave’s marathon new album, Comparator Night at Don’s, is perfect for an imaginary dance party in these strange summer months. Nearly everything about this music—including the close-to-alphabetical track list—is a blend of exacting care and askew-ness, like a geometric abstract painting hung three degrees off centre. The Pure Rave collective’s experiments in “chance dance” are built from samples of records recovered from the trash and hosed off in bulk, and this album showcases some of the sunny and exuberant results. There’s a process being refined, but this is experimental music you can eat ice cream to. It’s fun without needing a party to prop it up. You can move to it in your heat-baked daydreams.
About seventy minutes into this gleeful rhythmic workout/playout comes “Slow.” It’s a perfectly off-kilter centrepiece that throws a gap into the beat just big enough to make a first-time listener lean into a stutter step and recover their footing. Even more than the other tracks, this one is a journey in understanding as well as rhythm. More than ten minutes in, a voice enters describing an encounter with a person whose appearance causes the speaker to express thoughts many people would be hesitant to say out loud, thoughts like: “I could barely stand to look at him.” But the moment leads to recognition. In response to the other person’s laughter, the speaker laughs with him. In miniature, it gets across the beauty of Pure Rave’s project. Someone who expects dance music to follow certain conventions, like a digitally regulated beat that makes no room for rhythmic wonkiness, might ask, “What the hell is this?!” The point is the pleasure of letting these artificial constraints go, and letting the echoes of discarded sounds careen sideways into your life.
If you need a source of unadulterated joy, Comparator Night at Don’s is a good place to look. Even better, the collective’s used the album to raise more than five hundred dollars for the Ruth Ellis Center, a Detroit organization that has served at-risk LGBTQ+ youth for more than twenty years. The album is available on Pure Rave’s Bandcamp page.