-bring a helmet and a microscope-
Fury unleashed digits whirling amid chunks of molten synthetics and the power of sound, thunder from the depths and the heights
of a code unknown .Through pulsation's of noise removed from the twelve tone system haunting melodies mirroring relentless shadow boxers emerge.
For true connoisseurs of experimental electronic music. This artist doesn't easily fit into your standard electronic categories.
Group members - one
thumbtack smoothie - electrickitchentableland (2001)
thumbtack smoothie - math is hard (2002)
thumbtack smoothie - homestyle (2003)
thumbtack smoothie - fall back (2006)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE (a.k.a. Carl Coletti) made the strange transformation from studio session/live drummer (with bands like The Walkers,The Neighborhoods, Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra, the Jason Newsted-led Godswallop and Pancake Circus) to experimental electronic musician. His new album Fall Back (Quake Trap, 2006) reflects an artist reaching towards the peak of his extremely weird powers. 8 years ago, he was a drummer who stumbled upon the (then) Metallica Bass-player's portable sampler. Today he is easily one of San Francisco's boldest sonic alchemists.
Naturally transferring his percussive knowledge to drum programming and sound manipulation Thumbtack Smoothie creates his densely layered tracks by loading his herd of samplers with insanely intricate sonic entities of his design and then plays the sampler pads real time improvising and responding to the overdubbed layers of sound as only a drummer of his caliber can.
While tapping the sampler pads his waving hands disturb infrared light D-Beam controllers that change the parameters of the effects on his samples. This level of control shifts Thumbtack Smoothie into the territory of insane puppet master in complete command of his audio assault. This unorthodox style of track creation/performance unhinged from traditional production methods allows Thumbtack Smoothie's tracks to soar to places unexplored in the realm of experimental electronic music.
Some of you might be aware of Thumbtack Smoothie's
deeply layered experimental electronic blanket's of sampled
distortion and rugged beat-work on albums like "Math is Hard"
(Manic Obsessive, 2002) and "ElectricKitchenTableLand" (Manic
This year Thumbtack Smoothie released "Homestyle" (Quake
Trap, 2004) --also found in KUCI's RPM music library --where
decomposed digital sounds interact with organically placed
glitches, twitches, distorto beats and odd tweaks. It's an
equation of electronics that twists and turns like mechanical
insects lost in a frozen landscape in 2010.
(Digital::Nimbus experimental electronic radio KUCI 88.9 FM)
Thumbtack Smoothie - Homestyle - CD - Quake Trap
sent me these two highly experimental albums along
with a compilation album to listen and immerse myself in their artist's
auditory madness. The album Homestyle is the more bizarre of the
two.What I found on this release may be music for individuals with a taste for oddly processed experimental electronic music that, according to the CD sleeve, was manipulated with infrared D-beam controllers. It's a 54-minute journey to a world you have never been to. A world that was uniquely created and belonging solely to the mind of the producer.
Thumbtack Smoothie has given this world a tangible form in the
likeness of a CD for people who desire to explore this realm
but do not realize it yet. This is Thumbtack Smoothie's third release and it continues his science of melding drum & bass with eccentric sample material and fleeting appearances of I.D.M. as well as plenty of reverb, filtering, modulation and ring modulation. Notable tracks are: Never At Dusk, June Louder, Moondoggy, Sore Eye Soire, Scrunchie Misplacement Incident and Lil?? Dropper.
( Craig N. - Vital )
Thumbtack Smoothie - Homestyle - Quake Trap
Something ruptured, something crude.
San Francisco is imploding with a whole new sound. On his third full-length Thumbtack Smoothie's Homestyle has some in common with Amon Tobin, the rabid percussion is just left of center and the beats are ready to pounce at the quick. "Clyde's Edge" certainly opens the package with an imploding whiff of absinthe. If you have ever played Pong on acid, this may be the sordid soundtrack. Something of a relentless blur.
The Smoothie takes an amoeba-like sound, something edgy and organic, and struggles with its silly putty edges, stretching it to the brink on tracks like "Dodgeball Mentality" and "Fragmentation Key" (which sounds like a two-parter, separated by a few tracks in between). He takes low-fi rhythms and hyphenates the backend, stunting the beats, roughing it up a bit. Where things take a synchronous turn is on "June Louder" where added is a bit of piano, lain aside a big, bad post-rock wall of percussion. Things become much more interesting a few minutes into the track when a revving of game sounds start up a modulated drag race. Part Bi-God 20, the resemblance to early 90s industrial-goth is fragrant, but not exactly the point.
( TJ Norris - Igloo Magazine )
Math is Hard
(Manic Obsessive recordings)
Who was it that said Collage was the art of the future? Some of the most interesting sounds that are being made today cannot be so easily be categorized. Those of you that know me know that I'm smiling right now, as I hate categorization. (If you don't know that by now, after reading this column, consider yourself forewarned.) Thumbtack Smoothie, who hails from San Francisco, does not have a problem mixing hip-hop, trance, electronic, trip-hop, drum n' bass and every other bit of noise that he can muster up, to create a sprawling, blippy psychotic trip through the ventricles that we call life. This CD explodes in your face. There is nothing neutral or relaxing here. It is what it is and there are no apologies for it. That's the beauty of this m?lange of sound that drips, bleeps, screams out of its nerve endings that convulse sporadically like a nervous twitch in your arm. This is an experimental journey that takes you for a roller-coaster ride full of jolts and heaping mounds. You think you know the road ahead of you, only to end up doing a three sixty in reverse, followed by a screeching stop. This recording is meant to open the pores in your body that need a deep cleansing. Awaken your senses. Wake up people. I really dug the trip
hoppy sounds of "Sea From Grain", with buzz saws going off in the background. One of my favorite cuts is "Still in a Cloud". There's this sample that repeats like a floating string section and over the top, you can hear a muffled voice saying,"boring, boring, boring." This recording is anything but boring. This is experimental music of the highest order. Available through cdbaby.com.(Midwest Ursine "On The Turntable" May 2002 )
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE: math is hard
"Thumbtack Smoothie's music looks at me naked and then takes
my skin off and wears it - still dripping - traipsing around the kitchen singing in some alien tongue."(Micro Vard - Club D'elf)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE: math is hard
Frenzied and frantic, the level of intensity on this CD is as
abstract, yet exact as that description. For true connoisseurs of experimental electronic music. This one doesn't easily fit into your standard electronic categories.
(CD Baby - editors picks May 2002)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE: Math Is Hard (Manic Obsessive Recordings)
Thumbtack Smoothie is a relatively new artist from
Northern California who
produces delicately crafted yet dark ambient electronics.
(digital::nimbus experimental electronic radio KUCI 88.9 fm)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE - Math Is Hard (Quake Trap)
Thumbtack is one of those vigilante types playing by his own set of rules.originally the drummer for Pancake Circus , Thumbtack branched out a few years back and began encoding the results of his own sophisticated programming -(of which, Math Is Hard is his second release). The result is a massive advancement from his preceding release Electrickitchentableland.Math Is Hard is much more accessible...working as a dynamite soundtrack to any comic book or cyberpunk novel...the tracks are long and progressive...playing with the concept of mortality via machine...Thumbtack's production is a fantastic compliment to the sounds he creates, shifting pans with ultimate precision that launch Tetsuo (cybernetic mutant character from writer/director Shinya Tsukamoto film...) tenticles out of the system and drag you into the mix until you are absorbed...twisting up sounds..beating, blagging, debasing and metamorphasising all thoughts into a singular stream of conciousness..you could play this release religiously and still find little hidden movements and creations...it interacts with you with the kind of accuracy that would make a mood ring weep and a fortune teller melt..this is bombardment and reformation all on your side of the fence, you are in control..for even though math ain't nothing but a tool..you can't help admiring the potential for complicity...such as this.
(Cumbersome Records - Melbourne Australia)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE Math Is Hard (Manic Obsessive)
Really well done kitchen table electronics from local guy. Manages to combine exciting, fast paced breakbeats with a lush layer of slowly drawn-out melody.
(Aquarius Records - San Francisco, California)
Thumbtack Smoothie: Math Is Hard
Complex, fast, layered
intense, challenging, experimental electronic.
Thumbtack Smoothie challenges the listener sonically on
every track on "Math Is Hard". The varied tempo keeps one glued to their headphones as the artist unleashes a barrage of sonic assualt gems delivered in what could best be described as noise waves. This music could easily be the soundtrack to the brain function of a brilliant and misunderstood, manic, obsessive-compulsive mathematician.
The production on this CD is incredible, headphone listening is highly recommended.
(CD Baby Magazine - August 2002)
Title : Math Is Hard
Artist : Thumbtack Smoothie
Style : Noise/Experimental
Label : Manic Obsessive Recordings
If there were an asylum for techno tunes gone mad, that's
where you'd find some of the tracks fom " Math Is Hard " a
release of experimental noise music from Thumbtack Smoothie.
For example, the dark and quirky " Fleegle Costume " could
fit reasonably well on a techno compilation.
Others, such as " Still In A Cloud " sound like a trance and ambient noise crashed into a twisted heap.
How about " Math Is Hard " which sounds
like an escapee from the Aphex Twin recording studio ?
" Save Your Changes " is a harsh but melodic raspberry with blippy interjections that give it an R2-D2 attitude.
" Rubber Buildings " could be the ambient backround noise for a digital horror movie.
" It Came Hovering In " slams on with what sounds like
random steel drums possesed by electronic demons then fades into distant noise ambient.
These sounds and more make my ears pleased.
Grade : A
( MusicCorner - December 2002 )
Thumbtack Smoothie - "Math Is Hard"
(Manic Obsessive 2002, MOR2851)
Math is Hard is an intense look at the experimental music scene through the eyes of San Francisco based Thumbtack Smoothie. The mix is obscure and damaging to those who like an easy listen. It steps over into the realms of noise and smiles as it moulds sound into chaos, building to a pinnacle and staying there.
The basis for the tracks lie in the computer era, the sample kingdom. It will court the ears of Drum & Bass/HipHop/Noise/Trance freaks piled up to the eyeballs.
It haunts the minds of those who have no idea as to what it is about. It rests mainly in experimental creations, haunting atmospheres and bleeping backgrounds.
Those of you who listen to Breakbeat stuff or drool at the thought of Drum & Bass, or maybe just like to explore the sounds of new music, then you will definitely get off on this. People who want proper music run a million miles.
(From Aural Innovations #22 January 2003)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE - MATH IS HARD
Smoothie's 2nd album release and a sophisticated progression...Advanced percussive electronica from San Francisco. Perfect Soundtrack for a William Gibson movie... think Fuzz Townshend/and Clint Mansell, then multiply!
(Cumbersome Records Melbourne Australia)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE - ELECTRICKITCHENTABLELAND
Pioneering electro / industrial soundscapes n scrapes w/ Drum + Bass , all genius... one of San Francisco's finest... also check out his band:Pancake Circus... If Clint Mansell listened to Syd Barrett is what's going on here...
(Cumbersome Records Melbourne Australia)
THUMBTACK SMOOTHIE-Electrickitchentableland (Quaketrap Recordings/CD/US)
The second release for San Francisco's Quaketrap Recordings, and first solo album release for Thumbtack Smoothie's Electrickitchentableland is one of those complex musical voyages that borders on the edge of a different universe, a futurist soundtrack with unknown parameters.
With obvious associative and friendship ties in to related project Pancake Circus, Thumbtack Smoothie approaches this sojourn with radical vision to design a musical formula that hybrids so many forms of digital music.
Opening track "Twinko" is a psychoactive rollercoaster in vivid Technicolor, fueled by neo-nursery rhyme simplistic beat configurations, but equally propelled by a wall of familiar samples, which engage a modern hardcore blitz based in the heavens.
Track 2 "Disjointorama" is literally the audio-visual acid trip nightmare, as experimental drum & bass clatterings clash aggressively with disconnected, distorted jazz trumpet shrills.
The remaining 10 tracks reveal and uncover a fine-tuned artist anomaly on domestic soil, champion of the textured digi-dementia domain, good enough to appear alongside like-minded IDM brethren on quality experimental label, Belgium's Sub Rosa Recordings.The music will test your mind on many levels, and slowing time down around you will enable the ears to see the genius pool of tracks whose parts are greater than intended musical sum, a feat few artists can accomplish.- (Digital Artifact Magazine #19)........
USA From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
Thumbtack Smoothie is a member of the psycho trip-out hip-hop ensemble Pancake Circus that we reviewed in AI #15.
Venturing out on his own, the smooth one has produced a set of experimental but accessible electronic adventures that utilize a banquet of equipment including drum machines, samplers, turntables, synths, and virtually everything that could be found in a fully stocked Toy 'R Us store.
There's really quite a lot going on here and new elements reveal themselves with each listen.
Drum 'n Bass, Dub, hip-hop, and various other dance rhythms combine with spacey bubbling synths, countless samples, and childlike melodies to create a crazed collection of freakout tunes.
The spaced out zaniness reminds me most of Vas Deferens Organization in the way that careful editing is a large part of the resulting mix.
Pulsating flying saucer sounds, hip-hoppy beats, and non-stop transitional twists and turns keep the music flowing and the ride fun and intense.
I got a kick out of the sample of the modem handshaking that's strategically edited in on one track to add an even freakier ingredient to the ubiquitous alien sounds.
Overall, I'd say Thumbtack Smoothie has done an impressive job of creating chaos, yet forcing it down a controlled, linear path.
This may well be the freakiest music I've ever heard that can still [almost] be danced to.
Fans of Vas Deferens Organization, Faust, and the Residents put on your toe-tappin' shoes and step right this way.
(From Aural Innovations #17 September 2001)
Thumbtack Smoothie goes down about as easy as his name suggests. Start-and-stop drill'n'bass tunes, full of squiggly Industrial sounds and deep, fuzzy basslines drift off into robotic Ambient textures.
Atonal washes of keyboard delirium, elephantine trumpet screeches, and chopped-up vocal samples lead into dizzyingly fast breakbeats. Hard-edged Techno beats weave themselves into this frenetic mix, providing brief moments of relief from the onslaught.
Fractured piano loops wind themselves around beats that would fit into the "Funky Breaks category, were the bass not subsumed by a hi-hat line so spastic and hyperactive it'll make even the most patient third-grade teacher reach for her emergency stash of Ritalin.
Sometimes he switches gears, crafting surreal, soothing Ambient lullabies. (Listen.com 2001)