When unquestionably creative musicians draw a tight square around their talents and produce something minimal, it’s easy to call it a “back-to-basics” moment. For Andrew Field-Pickering, though, the basics are always bubbling in the background, and sometimes they bust their way to the front.
It’s a “utility thing,” the D.C. producer and DJ says about the no-frills tracks he releases as Dolo Percussion, including four he’s freshly dropped this week on the appropriately titled Dolo Percussion 2 EP. The energetic drum knocks and inviting bass tones maintain the core personality of the boundary-stretching funky music he makes as Maxmillion Dunbar, but without a lot of the far-out facets.
And by utility, Field-Pickering means that before any Dolo cuts are released on vinyl, he’s been using them — typically burned onto CDs — in DJ sets as Max D or with Beautiful Swimmers, his askew house-music duo with Ari Goldman. And with functionality as his motivation, he often finds himself pushed into a simpler headspace.
“With Max things, there’s infinite options, but with Dolo … you can get something wrong — it’s not gonna work unless you put a little bit of function to it,” he says. “I don’t ever think of a Max song as having a wrong way to go, but a Dolo thing can definitely be like, ‘Nah, this is not gonna work.’ It’s kinda cool because it’s this thing that talks back to you, almost.”
Dolo Percussion 2, on Field-Pickering’s own Future Times label, follows the format of 2013’s Dolo Percussion EP on New York’s L.I.E.S. label: four tracks, titled sequentially and generally presented in the order Field-Pickering created them.
“It’s utilitarian down to even the mixing, sometimes,” he says. “There’s pretty clear high, mid and bass things, like in terms of just the drum blocks — they’ll mix in with any record, it’s a bridge to anything else you’ll want to play.”
Field-Pickering says he typically shares the tracks with an inner circle of DJ friends once he’s had a chance to work them into his own sets for awhile. The response, as he describes it, is fittingly minimal.
“There’s a lot of exclamation-type things,” he says. Just like, ‘Whoo!’ You know, like, I get an email back, like, ‘Whoo! I can use that! Whoo!’”