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New Music 2018: Smear Frames 

The solo project of Century Egg’s Robert Driselle is a multi-layered, feel-good jangle.

click to enlarge RILEY SMITH

Robert Drisdelle is music-obsessed. When the Century Egg guitarist isn't working on the band's upcoming record, he's nerding out over Japanese rock music, learning about the maximalist production styles of DJ/composer/producer Yasutaka Nakata and spinning ideas for how this influence could appear in his own work. And when he's not, as he puts it with a laugh, "playing records at people—no, the seatbelt on the couch doesn't come off," he's messing around with multi-layered offerings of his own, under the name Smear Frames.

"Perhaps I'll get some buds to join or have a rotating cast of people come through," he muses of the jangly, feel-good music he's been making that's all bright guitars and wailing choruses. "I've been wanting to call a band Smear Frames for awhile and I have a whole backlog of tunes that aren't Century Egg tunes." Like Smear Frames' second single, "Glitterbug," a toe-tapping hat-tip to the folks at the new co-operative Glitter Bean Cafe. "I've been following that whole thing since the sandwich sign went up," Drisdelle says of the self-described queer space that was founded as a way for former Smiling Goat employees get behind the espresso bar again. "As a cis white hetero dude, it's important to support these people."

A smear frame is a wobbly, slo-mo image used in retro cartoons like The Looney Tunes to show a character's movement. Drisdelle thought it'd be a perfect band name because "It makes people Google smear frames and see those mind-blowing sorta things that are very practical in animation—because in animation if you just draw the character going from here to here too fast, it makes it look like he just appeared at the other side. It's a representative mutation to signify the movement. I liked it just because it sounds cool and it's a very visceral, weird effect."

The wobbling animations have an "allegorical feeling" for him. "In terms of my goals as a composer: Giving someone something that's familiar and then mutating it somehow—not so much direct-referencing as taking textures and idioms of songwriting and putting my own little mutation on it. You have to help people figure out how to digest something if you're presenting a new idea." —MM

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