Aaron Perez and Ben Livingston’s Drooler EP is an Intriguing but All-Too-Brief Prog Jazz Work

by Brian J. Audette

Aaron Perez Ben Livingston Drooler

I like drums. Just ask anyone who’s ever sat in a car with me when Medications’ “Twine Time” comes on. “Just listen to those drums” I’ll say. “Tune out everything else.” When a drummer fulfills that dual purpose of providing rhythm and backing— while also adding depth to a recording in line with the more traditional solo instruments— it just grabs me in a real and powerful way.

Taking some time away from their main gig as part of local progressive experimentalists Boyfrndz, the band’s long-time drummer Aaron Perez and keyboardist Ben Livingston provide such “just listen to this” moments on their new EP Drooler.

As a whole Drooler is a patently jazzy affair, from the Ikey Owens-like keys on opener “Past Due” to the EP’s titular, trumpet-charged, slow jam outro. That being said, this isn’t strictly a jazz album. Perez and Livingston’s progressive roots in Boyfrndz are evident in the manner in which they choose to subvert the the themes they initially present, sculpting them into something altogether more bizarre and otherworldly.

On “We See You” this takes the form of highly distorted, almost unintelligible vocals reminiscent of Black Moth Super Rainbow, accompanied by a sawtoothed synth solo mid way through. “Cycles Suspended” goes all out astral, creating a discordant out-of-body experience via sax and spacey synth, ultimately culminating in a more traditionally jazzy denouement.

Taken together Drooler is a fun collection of songs, but ultimately too brief for my tastes. Perez and Livingston explore themes quickly and then move on as opposed to the lengthier examinations one often thinks of in jazz and progressive music. As a demo it leaves me wanting more, but as an experience in and of itself, it’s no more than a passing curiosity. That being said, Drooler is still 18 minutes of music that I’d gladly add to a bizarro chill mix and oh yeah … just listen to those drums!

Brian Audette lives somewhere in Austin within a pillow fort made of broken dreams. He only comes out to see shows and buy beer. He has a surprisingly well maintained lawn and is using it to breed an army of attack mosquitoes with which to take over the world. Brian can be reached at brian@ovrld.com or on Twitter at @bjaudette.