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Old Punch Card

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 7, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Sam Prekop is known to most as the singer and songwriter of The Sea and Cake. He is a painter of some renown, a photographer and in addition he has released two solo albums of pop songs infused with his own blend of African and Brazilian guitar rhythms. Old Punch Card, his first solo effort since 2005, takes a dramatically unexpected turn away from either of these paths. Taking inspiration from early music concrete and electronic music, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Nuno Canavarro, Raymond Scott, David Behrman, and free improvisation, Old Punch Card is a beautifully noisy, jagged yet stately album of synthesizer music. The ideas and implementation of Old Punch Card (the album title alluding to the electronic, faintly mechanic origins of the music) were the result of an entirely new challenge: to do something completely different from anything else he's ever created. To facilitate this end, Prekop implemented a series of strict guidelines for the recording of the album. No vocals, no guitar (though he slipped in this regard on one track), and no beats. CD version comes packaged in a four panel mini-LP style gatefold package with the first 1,000 copies featuring hand painted covers by Sam Prekop, each copy unique.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 7, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • ASIN: B003WTO656
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,086 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had this cd for about 3 months and listened to it quite a few times to let it sink in before giving it a fair review. First off I give Prekop credit for doing kind of a 180 here and experimenting and trying something pretty different. Afterall its the versatility in his songs, sounds, songwriting that has made The Sea and Cake and Sam Prekop one of my top favorite artists/bands ever. He is one of the most superbly talented and underrated musicans I have ever listened to.

I very much liked his electronica songs from Two gentlemen, as well as random songs from him like The Afternoon and Prefuse 73...and even random instrumentals from SAC are all fantastic. But as another review pointed out its electric music really...not electronica music-slightly different. While by no meas is this a terrible album, its mostly dull and forgettable. Considering Prekops insane talent, I found it overall somehwat disappointing and if you have listend to most if not all of his music you know he is capable of so much more. If you are a Prekop fan you will buy the album anyway and find out the hard way like I did. I will always take a chance on a Prekop album.

I found the songs brambles and silhouetes to be pretty cool, interesting songs on the album ...but no real cohesion and fluidity in the majority of the songs--pretty much the whole album. Tell work is a song which I found interesting too. A few of the songs are just dowright boring, flat, and do not draw you in at all. I mean I find it hard to believe that he listened to most of these songs through before putting them on the album. And that he worked on and off to complete these songs for several years. He just gets too cutesy with the sounds, the static , chirps, bangs, etc.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Sea and Cake are one of the best pop bands in the world, but unfortunately are not a household name, although they ought to be, particularly for those who love Steely Dan with dashes of more electronica. But these guys are no clones - it's just difficult to find comparisons for such an immensely talented band that makes beautiful music album after album.
Sam Prekop is the vocalist and guitarist for S & C, and "Old Punch Card" is his third solo effort. Where his first solo album "Sam Prekop" and "Who's Your New Professor" were not terribly removed from the Sea and Cake, albeit with more Latin flavored percussion especially on the first CD, those expecting a familiar sound here are in for a shock.
A fan of experimental industrial/computerized and synth music, Prekop here decides to throw all caution to the wind and create a piece of work that has no vocals, guitar on only one track, and tons of soundscapes created by keyboards. The album has industrial overtones, but also has moments of ambience that could be perhaps the type of music some alien civilization chills out to. Plus, there are oodles of bleeps, blorps and blurbles that percolate all over the place, giving us snippets rather than conventionally constructed songs.
Wherein may be the turn off for some people. While I personally like music that breaks rules and convention, some will no doubt prefer the Sea and Cake or the other solo albums.
Nevertheless, for those who dug Can, some of the noisescapes of NIN with less mania and modern computer music in general, this is a very interesting album. I love it when the rules are broken.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I picked this album up when it was being offered a while back as a free download, and I was surprised I liked it. Don't come expecting melodies, let alone harmonies, or singing. The music consists of electronic sounds, sequenced and processed, including some very industrial-sounding stuff.

The "music" that can be identified traditionally as such is basically all synthesized, which is fine. Most tracks offer a mix of sometimes bouncy, sometimes pleasant synth tracks over a backdrop of pure industrial-ish noises.

I'm not aware of the reference made by another reviewer to Plux Quba, but this music carries along in the tradition of some things by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and in a very extended sense, even "Revolution 9" by The Beatles (minus the voices). There are some similarities to the glitch style of Oval as well -- in parts. And how about this for an obscure reference -- it often has similarities to the short, half-minute cuts in between the main songs on early Wall of Voodoo albums.

I won't be putting this on my playlist frequently, but it is pretty interesting. Recommended, but certainly not for everyone. In fact, I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say most people would dislike it, perhaps even strongly.
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Format: Audio CD
Those looking for indie rock should stop now and leave this page. You will be extremely disappointed if you purchase this CD. For those looking for a tour de force of musiqe concrete, experimental electronic (not electronica!) and improv then buy this immediately. This is a challenging listen but one that will reward you over and over again. I cannot begin to explain the contents of the CD but given time they will create complex textures and worlds of sound.

Finally, there is an interview somewhere out there (from a few years ago) in which Sam Prekop states his admiration of Plux Quba* by Nuno Canavarro. It is fairly certain that this album is a reaction to those sounds. In some ways, Old Punch Card is a homage or a modern follow-up to Plux Quba.

Just stunning.

*I believe this is now out of print but it was re-issued on CD by Jim O'Rourke in 1998.
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