For his first release under his own name, once and future Megafaun drummer Joe Westerlund follows the path of numerous artists before him: he’s made his dance music debut. But the thirty-minute, two-part Mojave Interludereleased on tape for Cassette Store Dayisn’t a club banger, though it would probably sound fantastic played very loudly through a big system. Westerlund makes dance music as John Cage once did for Merce Cunningham, abstractly and unpredictably, as much a matter of holding environmental space for the visual forms of the human body as providing specific cues.
Used for performance in choreographer Carson Efird’s piece I Am Come For You, staged in Los Angeles and Brooklyn in 2013, the two parts provide prime mind-movie entertainment for the enterprising listener. With some genetic connection to Westerlund’s sonic trickster alter ego, Grandma Sparrow, Mojave Interlude presents a playful and surprising flow of gurgles, drones, horns, processed percussion cloudscapes, gentle gongs, and layered patterns that seem to spell out stories in some personal and undefined variation on Morse code.
There are drums in there, too, but it at first seems that there’s little to link them to Westerlund’s many other percussion gigs, save for Megafaun’s collaboration with composer Arnold Dreyblatt, or the occasional self-destructing track (like “These Words,” from the band’s 2011 self-titled album) that cracks open into field recordings and other spaces. One would be hard-pressed to identify the creator of Mojave Interlude as a percussionist, necessarily, or anything other than an assembler of sound. The result is music for headphones and closed eyes. Passing gracefully through a succession of pleasurable scenes and spaces, Mojave Interlude becomes a private tango between recording and listener, a thoroughly modern type of movement: a dance for the head.