There is absolutely no way I can listen to the Ah Club without thinking of a visit I made to the duo’s Haight-Ashbury pad, where I was introduced by a couple of traveling companions. When we arrived, tape-loop wizard Aubrey Brengelman decided to take a break from studying geometry—one of many during the afternoon—and introduced me to some friends working on beat tracks and a loaded tokemaster. Brengelman immediately entered our road-trip mythology as a pothead extraordinaire, and his music supports this impression. The Ah Club sounds most like a lo-fi Tricky, packing languorous beats and accidental sophistication into songs that seldom clock in over two minutes. While Brengelman plays back reel-to-reel loops mined from his record collection (note the use of Slint’s “O Captain” on the epic “In This Quiet Place”), his live-in partner, Carol Paine, sings sweet, breathy love lines in a sometimes awkward, girlish voice. (The pair have since broken up, leading to speculations that this vinyl/CD follow-up to the cassette-only Squeeze Your Cares Away will be the last Ah Club release.) At their best, these songs, particularly “One Less” or the funky “Know My Purpose,” overlap rhythms and surprising melodic elements (piano, big-band horns, ukulele) with inadvertent menace—I often think of early Chris and Cosey records. At their worst, the songs dribble aimlessly like so much bongwater. Overall, this disarming music is delicious—and bold—in its rough-cut, melancholy simplicity.—Jeff Bagato

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