I’ve been involved in far too many debates over whether the trip-tape is a legitimate art form. I don’t know how it happens; most people would never even think to argue about something so trivial, but somehow it happens. The way I see it, the moment an artist takes deliberate control of an audio source, that audio deserves to be judged on its own merits. On Cat City, presumably named after California’s Cathedral City, Younghoon braids together a series of heavily altered classic R&B tracks, making use of an array of bit crushers, low-pass filters, echo effects and tape tricks to reduce each track into a nearly-incomprehensible barrage of lo-fi euphoria. Some tracks play back at around half their original tempo, such as side B’s “Sshhh,” and some suffer from severe warbling and tape distortion such as side A’s “Moretest.” But deconstructing the process takes the fun out of the music; the point is that you are holding in your hands 31 minutes of nostalgia and surprises, 31 minutes of purple tint, 31 minutes of unfettered strangeness. You have to close your eyes and sink when the tempo slows, you have to fall in love with the AM radio evocations. A perfect meander and a flawless drift from start to finish.

By John Julius

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