Title: Human Inosculation Part I
Title: Human Inosculation Part II
Artist: Leslie Keffer
Genre: Insectno/Microhouse/Experimental Electronic
Label: WEATNU RECORDS/Transmission Nova
Release Date: 17 February 2022
Written, performed, and recorded by Leslie Keffer summer 2021
Mastered by Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra
When I was four to five years old, I lived in New Philadelphia, Ohio. 2193 East High Avenue to be precise. It was a lovely home built on the side of a hill that had a drive-in garage around back. The garage went right into the basement. To my young mind, it was our own secret Bat Cave. To the south of the home there were remnants of an old apple orchard. Some of the trees were still standing while others had fallen and were rotting on the ground. Just past the orchard was a multi-acre field where Marsh Industries is currently located.
At that age one of my favorite television programs was the original Batman series from the 1960s. I had a Batman costume that I wore whenever I went out to play. Elbow high gloves, full cape, and a cowl. Head to toe. I would go out to the apple orchard, fields, and neighborhood in search of adventure and discovery by climbing trees, riding my tricycle, exploring nature, or annoy-visiting the retired folks in the house behind us. New Philly was Small Town USA and we lived on the rural outskirts. Pastoral bliss.
There was a girl about my age next door who would often come over when our parents wanted us to play together outside. As we explored the old apple orchard one day, I discovered a fallen tree that had been obscured by high weeds. The tree was straight and didn’t have any branches left on it. To me, it looked like a balance beam that had to be conquered. The girl from next door was scared to go first and wanted to see me try it. Channeling Adam West, I climbed up on the tree and started running. I got about halfway across the span when my foot broke through the rotted trunk. I fell in almost up to my knee and was momentarily stuck.
As I pulled my foot out of the hollowed trunk, I heard a subdued, muffled buzz that was getting louder. When I finally extracted myself, thousands of agitated bees flew out. They had made a monstrous hive in the rotted tree trunk. And boy howdy, they were pissed! The girl and I were instantly engulfed by the swarm and stung dozens of times each. My mother heard the little girl’s screams, looked out the window, and later described what she saw as the sky blackened by the menacing swarm like you’d see in cartoons.
I remember the sounds of the bees and the screams. I also remember the comforting bedside manner of the ER doctor who pulled dozens of stingers out of me. He said that the coverage from the Batman costume saved my life. My memories of New Philadelphia playback like a David Lynch film. American Dream kinda stuff with something sinister lurking just out of sight.
I mention this because before I knew anything about Leslie Keffer, her dual album release Human Inosculation Part I and Part II brought these childhood memories came back to my present day consciousness. It took me back to New Philly. And some other places too.
Music has a cool way of doing that.
So in what feels like a curious event of music industry synchronicity, New Philadelphia, Ohio native Leslie Keffer (wait… what?) and her self-described Insectno genre of microhouse and experimental electronic music have recently come on my radar. Leslie toured with the Laundry Room Squelchers and Scott Martin. She’s also worked with Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore.
Whoa. That’s some serious street cred. How have I not heard about her before?
Symptom starts Human Inosculation Part I with a catchy four-on-the-floor beat and insectoid filtered synth buzzes. Syncopated percussion then comes in and makes for a great album opening groove. The next song, Unfavorable, evoked early 1990s MS-DOS games, such as Doom, with its hammer like industrial pounding, more insect buzzing, and a delightfully minimal melody line.
Human Inosculation Part I continued to take me on an unexpected ride. Sometimes unnerving, but like great drama, always welcome. The fifth track Fertile has a delicious drum beat and keyboard sounds that made me recall the exact time and place I inhabited when I played a Casio SK-1 sampling synthesizer for the first time years ago.
The last song Burrow preps you for what’s coming in Human Inosculation Part II. The conflict between the buzzing and soothing synths makes for great interplay. It felt like a welcome resolution.
Human Inosculation Part II begins with Home Now. A four-on-the-floor beat that evolves with intricate percussion and synth sounds that took me back to Manhattan and Toronto clubs in the early 2000s. Solidify’s pitch bending took me into classic sci-fi territory. The cricket and bird song-esque sounds in Diaphragm are pastoral bliss. The album finale Somatica ends with a long fade out that feels like drifting off to sleep during a summertime, under the stars, fireside camp out.
I’m shocked at how many memories and feelings this album brought out. I remembered being in a record store when I first heard Mark Isham’s rookie release Vapor Drawings. Or my own exploration of now-vintage music making gear. So much stuff, in fact, it’s kinda freaked me out. But in a good way.
You should give both albums a listen. I know I’m buying the CDs.
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