Reverend Mitton: The Silver Lining EP

Electronic music is a form of time travel devoid of interdimensional paradoxes and lascivious encounters with unwitting ancestors. Songs become wormholes capable of dispatching a listener to the left flank of a bionic militia or the bone-littered floor of a troglodyte cave. While listening to “Remember Who,” a jackin’ house groove off Reverend Mitton’s début release The Silver Lining EP (Caboose Recordings), I teleported to the backseat of a maroon ‘87 Eagle Premier. The excursion was ephemeral, constituting a contraction of time generally expressed in the language of dreams. Regardless of the duration, I was able to approximate an unexceptional moment in time I had long since surrendered. Enthroned behind the steering wheel, my dad murmured harmonic fragments of an old funk song written well before my time. My sandaled toes tapped erratically against the floorboard, an involuntary reaction stirred by a rhythm in which I was unconditioned. The seatbelt buckle infiltrated the protective coating of my Ninja Turtles t-shirt, scolding the flesh above my navel. Was it July? I think we were heading to a swimming pool.

I first met Reverend Mitton (aka Timm Reynolds) when I was a lanky teenager perusing shelves at The Loft, a record store that once occupied a narrow second storey unit in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. By and large, this initial meeting was unhistorical. In fact, bestowing a verb like “meeting” might be a bit of an overstatement. I was just some party kid in a Kangol Visor and a pair of Kick Wear pants baggy enough to swim in. The Reverend had achieved a sort of local celebrity among my adolescent band of raver compatriots, thus triggering a rare bout of modesty while I was in his presence. But the more I got to know the guy, the more I became aware that he didn’t oozes with the dregs of undo self-importance that can infect the elite few who figure out how to slide a fader and match beats (please forgive my blatant sarcasm). Anyway, as it turns out, Reverend Mitton is a steadfast advocate of electronic dance music, a percussive soothsayer worthy of the venerated prefix that adorns his name. In the years that I’ve known him, he has emerged as a passionate disciple of house, broadcasting the tenants of harmonious accessibility that has catapulted electronica to the far reaches of the globe. And to highlight this sense of accessibility, I will henceforth abandon his befitting moniker and simply refer to him as Timm.

After two decades behind the decks, one might perceive Timm’s transition from DJ to producer as inevitable, though slightly overdue. However, life is a collection of modest educations, exquisitely molecular, that coalesce into a vibrant whole. Just as the slap of a bass-lick intertwining with a soulful hook may stir memories of a car ride on a summer afternoon, the process of creative articulation is one of subtlety. So before delving into a review of The Silver Lining EP, I feel that it would be remiss not to provide a little bit of back-story. After all, destination are often self evident; it’s the pathways that interest me most.

If you’ve ever had the distinguished pleasure of reading one of those musician bios found on web sites and the backs of rave flyers, then you’re probably familiar with the well-worn preamble concerning a prodigy brought up within the clutch of talented musical virtuosos. Now don’t get me wrong—I’m sure all DJs who provide this depiction spent the whole of their childhoods dropping Chopin on a Casio keyboard like nobody’s business. I mean, everybody’s special, right? So suffice it to say it was rather refreshing to learn Timm’s parents didn’t really listen to music, much less proctor him in the mythical tendencies of Wagner, Stravinsky and Hendrix. But he did have older brothers who liked to wander to the local mall and buy records—a notably unremarkable feat in the 1980s. However, if one wishes to mythologize the situation, observing the recreational habits of his siblings played an important role in altering the arc of his own identity.

“My brothers, who were 6 and 8 years older than me, would buy records,” Timm explained. We had already downed a couple drinks before moseying onto his back patio. Dusk. A helicopter flew overhead. “They would buy 45s, you know, like the top 40s Casey Kasem shit. So by the time I got to where I had like any money that was like something I would go do.”

“What were you buying at the time?” I asked, consciously trying to camouflage an inebriated slur. I tilted my head backwards in an attempt to locate the position of the propellers droning overhead. I was a mosaic of waning professionalism.

“Well, when I first started buying stuff it was like Men at Work—pop music for the most part. Then I first started hearing hip-hop on the radio when we lived in Florida. I was like 8 or 9 years old, so I started buying some of that. I started with stuff like Run DMC and L.L. Cool J—that kind of stuff. Right away my brothers didn’t like that, so that was the breakaway from me just copying them.”

Timm went on to explain how his record collection soon surpassed that of his brothers, then promptly conjured the memory of the light bulb that ignited when a pair of neighborhood kids mixed some of his records on a mobile DJ setup. I lit a cigarette with a single flick of a lighter. That’s about the time the memory on my digital tape recorder tapered off—a travesty undiscovered until the conclusion of our conversation. Yet despite this technical lapse in preparation, I was able to commit Timm’s narrative to memory with little effort. This might be because accounts of artistic passion, at some base level, are the same. But language can only express so much. This is why I feel it would be somewhat trite to attempt to elucidate on the windfall of auditory stimulation that drew Timm into the slipstream of house music. Sometimes our most vibrant memories are best left in their container, I think.

Quiet alterations swim inside all of us. Yet we often disregard this facet of development and project mortal headway on monumental screens. A first love, a first car accident, a second diagnosis of the clap. Though I doubt it’s a contemporary affliction to view our personal histories as hastily abridged novels, it’s rather unfortunate we can’t retain the minutia that floats like silt on the hidden pools of our lives. A boy ascertains an interest in music by way of domestic observation. As he develops, his interest evolves into an obsession. And his obsession results in a vast record collection, countless DJ mixes and an unwavering urge to share the subject of his desire with those around him. But passion and commitment only provide a small portion of the story I’m trying to tell. Sometimes it’s the dark sludge of societal excrement that alters the creative trajectory of our lives.

The Silver Lining EP was suppose to be titled The Silver Line EP (a nod to Caboose Recordings), but a clerical error provided an unintentional suffix. Though this may seem to be a minor blunder, the final leg over this story divulges its exquisite irony. Last year, Timm’s house was burglarized. A pair of CDJs, a mixer and a pair of Technics he owned since 1993—gone. For the better part of two decades, Timm has explored his interest in dance music as a DJ. Sure, he had dabbled in producing before, but these endeavors were laden with many false starts. Though this may be somewhat presumptuous, I feel little shame in assuming that the sudden absence of his gear diverted his musical inclinations to the confines of the studio. Though it doesn’t excuse the wayward behavior of a band of roaming crack-heads, it does poetically demonstrate enigmatic nature of causality, hence the silver lining.

Conduits of recollection saturate this trio of soul-slinging house music gems. The Silver Lining EP is a jackin’ throwback to the structural aesthetics that transformed disco into a richer, sample-driven music that has rocked parties across the globe for over a generation. The opening track “Gimme Somethin’” is a rich, feel-good cut that’s sure to charm the piss out of any dance floor. Featuring a spirited sample from Brenton Wood’s 1967 single “Gimme Little Sign,” the track merges a stomping house beat with a vocal of such intimate delight. Also, it might worth noting that “Gimme Something” breeched the top 10 on Stompy.com’s top 100 list. No small feat for a début outing, if I do say so myself.

“Bayou Boogaloo” is the techiest number on the EP. It has this Cajun android weirdness about it that’s kind of hard to put a finger on. The vocal samples are short and bubbling, aiding the rhythm as opposed to providing an additional layer to the song. Though this creates a more computerized atmosphere, it’s a catchy tune. It’s definitely a good transition track that could bridge a more Chicago sound with tech house.

And then there’s “Remember Who,” a shake-it or break-it bootleg utilizing divine samples from Sly and the Family Stone’s “Remember Who You Are”. This is my personal favorite. It’s one of those remixes that never banishes the original sentiment in exchange for praise on the dance floor. Instead of manipulating the song beyond recognition, Reverend Mitton plays it simple, embellishing kicks, snares and high hats that transform the song without out depleting its natural charisma. About 1600 words ago, I began this feature by describing a momentary lapse in time that occurred when I first listened this to song. Though it might have seemed like some anecdote concocted to provide a catchy intro, I can assure you it was not. Music has this funny tendency to stratify chapters of our lives. At times, pages stick together, obscuring scenes that may be inconsequential, but nevertheless are there. Music serves as a delicate astringent, a solution that breaks down mental adhesives, revealing who we really are.

The Silver Lining EP by Reverend Mitton on Caboose
Buy on Stompy.com

Enter the Soft Museum: Meditations on 8-Bit Bling

7:00 pm. The outskirts of Santa Fe. A drive past aluminum structures, cumbersome and nondescript—carbon copies on an industrial block. A search for a unit number. The foil of February darkness. After several k-turns, I produce my cell phone. The convenient safety of binary limbs. I dial and wait, tentatively imagining the nocturnal passages of unknown ancestors, the cautious push through sepulchral shadows. The ability to empathize with an ancient routine strikes me as deplete, a predicament banished from the First World. All I really have to go on has been passed down from the pages of books, the flicker of silver screens. Perhaps I am unfortunate in this regard.

“Hello?”

“I’m lost. Everything’s the same”

“Be right out.”

Stray thoughts on modern conditions: light pollution, prescription drugs and toxic debris. Do cell phones really give you cancer? My mind jitters as I roll down the block, seeking the wave of a familiar hand. I am about to arrive at the residence of Nico Salazar and Autumn Dawn Gomez. They are friends with whom I have shared and discussed. However, the purpose of my journey goes beyond the realm of affectionate visitation. There have recently been sightings of strange talismans around the necks of electronic music aficionados. Unsuspecting nightclub patrons glimpse fugitive nostalgias, pixilated and dashing. Familiar faces like Mega Man, Super Mario and (my personal favorite) Sonic the Hedgehog compose the dappled surface of these charms.

Nico ushers me into the Soft Museum. As I enter, it becomes evident this outpost was groomed by a pair of rambunctious pop artists. Curious objects inundate the warehouse: giant canvases, esoteric deities and an assortment of masks. There’s even an inflatable ape clinging to the branches of a potted tree. Tethered blankets form flowing partitions; the creation of makeshift rooms. There’s a sort of joyful clutter about it, a childlike panache that hangs in the air like pollen.

Autumn reclines on a sofa… or maybe it’s a chase lounge. Clusters of texture and color hinder all attempts at inventory. Cambodian rock music radiates from a laptop: Ros Sereyothea, a likely victim of the Khmer Rouge. I roam freely, carefully exploring little eccentricities. This is a place of tri-optic teddy bears and lasers beams.

Pop art exists as an examination of the surface; the familiar as the profound. Well, at least that’s how I would construe it. But I introspect compulsively. Art that exchanges the “inner” for the “outer” frustrates me. And don’t get me started on post-modern diatribes. From personal experiences, artists (as well as writers) are shameless. Don’t expect straight answers. However, when I inquired about the inspiration for the 8-bit medallions that are becoming increasingly visible in the New Mexico electronic music scene, Nico simply explained that, “We live in two worlds now.”

Since the proliferation of the internet, we slip between worlds, convoluting what is real and what is contrived. Children born in the 70s and late 80s served as test subjects for this rift. Unless you had card-carrying members of the video game Gestapo as parents, formative interactions with technology involved triangles that discharged dashes, or Italian plumbers disappearing down wells. I suppose it may be difficult for someone born prior to this to understand, but some of us maintained an emotional curiosity for computer-generated worlds.

When I was a kid, I convinced myself the world was going to end by the year 2000. This was the result of flippant adult remarks in conjunction with a decade-long television campaign aimed at scaring the piss out of every sensitive crumb-cruncher in the world. Compound this with an awareness of serial killers, senseless wars and a breed of “bad people” who yearned to do something terrible to children that I could never quiet put my finger on, it’s astonishing that I didn’t grow to develop more complexes than those already acquired.

Lucky for me, escapism was only a game cartridge away. Video games were an aegis, a comfort best savored when you realized how small you are. Becoming a hero in a quest provided a sense of control that seemed unobtainable in the adult world, a childish rapture. I’m not trying to suggest that I spent my childhood within a fetal curl, but sometimes I needed a fiction in which I could participate, a shade to block the glare. At times, I even fiddled with the notion that my 8-bit adventures might induce an applicable bravery. As I grew, the outcomes of such whimsies were negligible. But when I was little, I felt that way.

Grownups cannot dodge mortal vulnerability, or hide from the tragedies of a tainted life. Self-forgetfulness is not an option. There are rights and wrongs in this world that we must address, explain and monitor. But our vigilance is also our amnesia. This is why I praise the efforts of the Soft Museum and its proprietors. They have restored an attention to a species of color and imagery that some might lose in a cynical haze. Their work is jaunty and impish, yet drenched in symbol and myth. And though their work may not be for everyone, it seems quite befitting for a generation that worships synthetic music and laser light.

Miscellaneous Theories on Time – Directed by Andre Ross

While grieving, reality abides by physics all its own. Memory becomes sense. Sense becomes time. Time becomes scene. Please take a moment to check out my latest short film. This film along with other work can be viewed by following the PORTFOLIO link above.

Rose Colony – Directed by Andre Ross

In film school you are constantly bombarded with questions pertaining to the subject matter of any given work. What’s the message? What are you trying to say here? Blah, blah, blah. This question is even more prevalent in the world of a documentary film. Be that as it may, I feel the best documentaries show the subject for what it is, without alluding to subtext or bias. With this in mind, understand that I did not make the following film to prove a point or plead a case. Agendas aside, I made “Rose Colony” simply to showcase an individual that I found interesting.

Enjoy.