Elevate Difference

Old Punch Card

Over the past few years, Chicago-based singer, songwriter, photographer, and painter Sam Prekop has dabbled in all sorts of music. He’s collaborated with Broken Social Scene, Prefuse 73, and even had his work sampled in a toilet paper commercial. Most well known as frontman for The Sea and Cake, he set out to make a brand new kind of record, in no way resembling anything he’s ever done. On that count, he succeeds.

When I put on Old Punch Card, I expected an album filled with pop rock tunes about nostalgia. What I got was a record that literally sounds like an old punch card machine: whirring, screeching, and clunking as it choked on a metaphorical train ticket. My partner glanced over and said, “Was the download corrupted?” “This is electronic avant garde,” I deadpanned. He waited for me to call bullshit.

Prekop himself explains, “I've left the confines of ‘song’ structure.” Created in his home studio, the album of only synthesizer music—none of Prekop’s mellow, pop vocals are heard; no lyrics written, no words uttered—composed in mostly winter months. The chilling effect is present and reminds us all that autumn is coming but winter will fiercely follow. I live up north; it’s August and I’m already wearing sweaters and wool socks. I dread the official season change.

“The Silhouettes,” the first official single from the album, is one of the more pleasant mixes. It fades in and out, just pop enough to bring to mind Dntel. “Knitting Needles” sounds like the soundtrack to an indie film interlude. Others, I found difficult, near unlistenable.

An artistic offering from a man of many mediums, the album covers are hand painted. I hope Prekop returns to what he does best and leaves the experimental noise for people with less enjoyable vocal stylings.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, October 1st 2010