Pursuit Grooves, as the multitalented New Yorker Vanese Smith is known in her work as a DJ (in this capacity she performs frequently on both sides of the Atlantic) and music producer, creates a rather cerebral sort of house music: it’s filled and even deliberately overfilled with aural juxtapositions whose effect is probably to induce an uneasy feeling of being in too small a space. It may not be too much of a reach to say that her music is about – or, moves around, circumvents – confinement in its various modes; and when her light free-floating lyrics – or actually, the lines she speaks which are like a stripped-down kind of blank verse – are set above all the electronic sounds, it can be doubly unsettling. Assuming that one is listening closely, of course.
On her Vimeo channel she’s also posted a few of the video works with which she sometimes accompanies her gigs as a DJ (she’s a film school graduate). Here is one.
On her own, in addition to her Youtube channel, she also maintains a Soundcloud page (and Bandcamp, Myspace, and Facebook pages) where many of her tracks are uploaded, of which the following represent only a few.
“Electric Company Cars.”
And “Peace Talks.”
In the last couple of years, under the name GuSHee, Smith has been working with the Toronto DJ Cheldon Paterson. And even more recently she’s devised yet another moniker for herself, as she seems to be turning her energies to creating longer pieces of music that are specifically filmic. For the first of these she’s donned the name 91 Fellows (in honour of her late grandfather, she explains); the work that’s resulted, a score for a film that doesn’t actually exist but which if it did would no doubt contain some sort of dystopian vision, amplifies by an order of magnitude the disturbing qualities of her earlier works. “Terrapin Sky Dome” is its title, and there’s nothing light about it at all; the sounds that trundle through it recall the overladen acoustic atmospheres of that other musician from Toronto, Milosh, at his darkest.
Pursuit Grooves, or whatever is the nom d’artiste that Smith will next assume, is one to follow.