Ropechain, the second album by beat aficionado David Adamson as Grampall Jookabox, begins with a mass of remixed voices that may well be from a Bollywood movie. It’s impossible to make sense of what they are saying, but there is a definite hypnotic quality to the loop and the thumping bass that underlies it. By the time that Adamson makes his first appearance, talking about “black girls building skyscrapers with their brains," we are already predisposed to his particular kind of madness.
And madness is the only adequate way to describe Ropechain. The album showcases a variety of Adamson’s obsessions, fears and surprisingly warm feelings for an idealized Michael Jackson and filters them through a musical sensibility that starts and disco and ends somewhere addled in a basement in Middle America.
Ropechain was recorded over a week. Adamson was struck by a burst of creativity, canceled a weekend of shows and emerged with a new album. The process mainly took place in his basement studio, but he gathered samples from a variety of sources, including an abandoned insane asylum. Ropechain is an accurate reflection of what must have been a very manic week of recording. The songs have the same vibe to them, and the immediacy with which they were produced adds to the cohesive feel of the album.
The flipside of the flash of brilliance coin is that the collection is devoid of editing. Adamson leaves in sounds and samples that might have been excised had the recording taken place over a longer period of time. The album, possibly by design, sounds sloppy and follows paths that often lead to musical dead ends. Ropechain is sometimes frustrating bordering on indulgent, but it also depicts, without censorship, Adamson’s unique process and point of view.