New Haven beatsmith and solo artist D. Gookin, a.k.a. Mike Birnbaum, is on a mission. Think of it as retaliation against a recession both economic and emotional. While his peers delve ever deeper into moodiness and sonic murk, Gookin flips life's unsavory bits into maxed-out, genuinely uplifting music. Combining the adventurousness of modern electronic innovators like Tobacco and Daedelus with the playfulness of '90s pop usurpers like Soul Coughing and Len, his sound is as propulsive as it is melodic, as freewheeling as it is meticulously orchestrated, and as blown-out bright as it is endlessly detailed.
His first self-released record—2009's LP How 2 Deal and 2008's EP When You're Lonely, Everybody's a Celebrity (Moodgadget)—were steeped in '80s electro and Italo Disco and yet oddly melancholic, like hearing someone else's dance party through a wall, or a pop tune playing from the bottom of a swimming pool. After contributing to Passion Pit's full-length breakthrough Manners, Gookin self-released 2010's From Here the Wall of Undoing EP, where he took a different tack. He pushed his drums and vocals to the forefront, adopting a psychedelic, rock-driven, maximalist approach à la Dan Deacon. Meanwhile, he developed his kinetic live show to match, both locally and on the road with Mux Mool.
In 2011, D. Gookin returns with Spiral Style, his most raw and undiluted work to date. Inspired in no particular order by slam-dancing, Fat Boy Slim, general grooviness, vocoders, PacSun, and the feeling of freedom that comes with a wandering mind, the record covers a broad swath of styles while staying true to Gookin's goal. From the anthemic electronica of opener "Way 2 Grow," to the beaming optimism of "Spirit Link," to the chopped chipmunk soul of closer "Stealing Sun Chips," the Spiral Style EP is a candy-coated feel-good affair that effectively wrings good vibes out of the bad stuff that too often slows us down.
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