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Proffessor Undressor

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Issue: 12 Section: Arts Geography: Atlantic New Brunswick

December 22, 2003

Proffessor Undressor

Sumi-E Experiment (2003)

by Matt Brennan

Many of today's most acclaimed electronica albums are recorded in the cramped bedrooms of computer-literate music nerds. Meanwhile journalists have invented the curious genre of "laptop music" to describe the trend. As far as I can tell, the term is not actually restricted to music made exclusively on laptops but rather refers to any synth-oriented music made on a person's home processor instead of the expensive computer workstations that are now ubiquitous in professional recording studios.

Now meet New Brunswick-based Jay Arnold, who has created the persona of Proffessor Undressor in a playful attempt to challenge and poke fun at these assumptions. Outfitted with a full vest, tie, pocket protector (!), and a beard that would rival even the tweediest of male university profs, Arnold begins to come into his own on his second album, The Sumi- Experiment.

I like Sumi-E most for its surprises. When you expect a funky folktronica bounce, you're hit with a lush Tricky/Bjork-style ballad, the melody soaring over patches of Aphex Twin-esque beats. When you expect a Roland 909 drum machine, you get a soundscape of static with jazz trumpets played backwards. Most surprising of all is that these odd juxtapositions actually work.

Sounds that are surprisingly satisfying are surely a hallmark of good music, in which case the Proffessor's experiments have proven successful, and are certainly worth your time.

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