Local Agent






Local Agent is the fourth coaxially twisted, simmering industry-near, mercilessly aeriform/earthbound synergetic erethism in the shape of an LP by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based synth tweaker and programmer Charlatan aka Brad Rose, also known as the runner of Digitalis Recordings and one half of Safiyya. Released in August 2014 on Umor Rex situated in Mexico City, its eight tracks are transferred onto 300 yellow vinyl discs, mastered by John Tejada and beautifully packaged by Umor Rex’s designer Daniel Castrejón. Available to purchase and stream at Bandcamp and distributed by Thrill Jockey as well as Anost, the front artwork reveals three particular – or peculiar – trademarks that are endemic to Local Agent. One of them for sure is the nocturnal setting; at times, the eight tracks are rather grim concrete Glitch jungles with architectural profusions, mucoid moulds and wobbbling (with an extra b) ghosting structures. Luckily, the second ingredient comes to the rescue, pictured above via the rectilineal yellow beams. Not only do they carry a certain colorful illuminating power within them, they also delineate the third pillar of Brad Rose’s album: its chopped state. While the traits of Dub and straits of Drone are equally noticeable and comparatively easy to absorb, it is the crystalline, potentially poisonous Glitch epicenter that reigns and rules in the cyber-accentuated world of Local Agent. Polygonal pulses, aureate pipes, laser blotches and crepuscular cavities make up the majority of the album. Melodies or recognizable tone sequences are inferior slaves to the zoetrope of incandescent patterns, luminous alloys and polyfaceted textures. A deeper inspection of all eight tracks is given below.


Daniel Castrejón's design. This could certainly be called Mellow Yellow. Patent pending? 


The term staccato drone is an oxymoron, but an apt one to astutely describe the trenchant opener Switchblades, a dichotomous titration process of mellowly retrogressive stokehold protrusions that cajole their way into the heart, only to then see their softly bit-crushed state meet decorticated sine bleeps whose viscidity revs up the recondite fibrillation. The afterglow of the soothingly bumbling machine drones is facing a glacial serration of accosted droplets, bumps, vesicles even. Incidental – or accidental – melodies shuttle around the dark blue photometry, leaving the listener petrified in the wake of a superbly balanced cataract of inorganic life. The follow-up Blur Suit meanwhile carves out the cylonic thiazide eclecticity further as Brad Rose appends electric guitar-resembling cesspool pericarps to rhythmically scything robot pikes. That this is no clandestine chroma crest can be determined qua a certain liquedous lifeliness, be it in the shape of echoey vesiculating superfluids, lavabo laser lights or a cataleptic earthquake gigantomachy which fuels the acidic relish and therefore the equilibrioception. Is this a track whose darkness aggrandizes, or a fusillade of industrial phosphor illuminants?


Up to this point, Charlatan’s proclivity for amicable asbestus aureoles is undeniable in view to the intrinsic landscapes, but these semi-dry aesthetics are turned around and upside down with the gorgeous cyber convulsion Lonely City, a neon-lit cannelure complete with flashing ligneous bolts, lightning catenae, two-note synth globs and refreshingly histrionic acid helixes multiplexing saltatory euphoria. Indeed, if there is anything wrong with this piece, it is the title, for loneliness does not ensue in this amalgamation of vertiginous undercurrents and crystalline adjuvants. Horticultural and apocryphal, Lonely City offers an exciting mirage. Up next, however, is Skulled, an ophidian vestibule leading to synthetic chaparrals, wooden ticks and magic wand waterfalls. Nocturnal and silver, somnolent and polyrhythmic, it mixes an infinitesimal driblet of Dub with raggamuffin metalization foundries. There are lots of different surfaces embroidered in the textural void, making this AM radio frequency panorama seem spineless and macerated. Afterwards, The Cure serves as the antidote title-wise, but dominates the listening subject via a voluminous vitrectomy, or what else to call the flinching syringa howls, static noise jitters and Angkor Wat temple bell vestiges scattered all around the spermatocystic rivulet?


The last three tracks continue to showcase Brad Rose’s nutritious reticulation as the album moves ever forward toward Glitch-inspired soundscapes, asphyxiating any kind of euphonious harmony patterns once and for all. Double Blind Host is an ode to comblike interstices, a rhythmical highrise rumpus whose tame and orderly skeleton of bursts and beats holds together the endemic nullspace made of alkaline zings, sizzling statics and chopped electric current pits, resulting in a desiccate swamp of high-voltage toxemia. The quasi-human touch returns in the gestalt of Antiprism, and while it is no less shy of circular saw/didgeridoo intermixtures and vitreous shard undulations, it at least offers an Ambient core that is pushed to the background: a susurrant bokeh of bustling spirals swirls around the frontmost ignis fatuus. Tottering breakbeat superimpositions and angular aqua accentuations successfully fight the pitch-black circumambience before the portentous finale Nightmaring shows off a different kind of tohubohu. A laid-back heartbeat marks the base for calcined punctilio glitters, venomous polka dots, sine sinews and 8-bit sirens. The rhythmic backend is withdrawn into itself whereas the unfolding interplay of fused klaxon bricks and cavernous clave trickles ends the abstruse-epicurean splinter vivacity in a spectral, ominous way. Open the gate, let these hazardous curlicues flow in!


Charlatan’s Local Agent is a purposefully eclectic and labyrinthine mélange of slivers, slices, clicks and cuts, with the title itself being veiled – and augmented – by a calamitous ambiguity. Is this agent an implied person on an undercover mission, a so-called combat agent in the shape of a phial or even the subcontractor proxy of a dire situation that has grown out of control? Given the amount of disaccords, dixie dribs, coruscating cracks, scintillating specters and whatnot, Brad Rose’s fourth installment under the Charlatan moniker manages to meander around the morphogenesis of mayhem, the gateway to Glitch, the nacelle of the nineties. Juxtaposed to the chopped structures and rhythmic patterns is the barest modicum of melodies, with the only exception being the majestic Lonely City that towers above the mercurial melting pot like a monolithic cuboid. It is only here where the chromaticity turns into vivacity, where the pointillistic callisthenics are hued in technicolor spotlights. The remaining seven isles, however, are adamant in their physiognomy: call them industrial complexes, benthic rust rhizomes or the nuclear nuts and bolts of the whole listening experience, there is no denial that Local Agent as a whole is turbulent, independent, quirky in a stern way and wondrously torn apart by its innermost elemental forces. It is aural chemistry, a microscope in wave form, a breeding oscillator spawning Microhouse remnants, Tartarean prophecies and explosive cocktails. An intimidating, medulla-freeing listening experience in-between the pith of Glitch and Drone.


Further listening and reading:


Ambient Review 370: Charlatan – Local Agent (2014). Originally published on Aug. 27, 2014 at