DECAY

EYES ON THE ELBOWS
Album art: Nikolaus Schuhbeck

Eyes On the Elbows’ debut album Decay is far from a state of festering decomposition, since on every track you see colors dancing in a sometimes fury escape of wild emotions, to a slow disappearance of a strange moss that is plantae. Maybe the idea is that, within decay there is growth, movement, since decay itself is organic matter. In which case, Decay, the album, achieves this process of transcendence, as it uses many popular niches of previous soundscapes, zeitgeists, what have you, and reinvents them. Well of course, the band itself is not even a band, but a very diverse community of musicians coming together by exact chance for jam sessions. This experience is possibly very reminiscent of the collective Broken Social Scene, the exception being, Eyes On the Elbows sound is taking, involving, not only the decay of indie music, but music that was once popular, that are now worn and cast aside into the ether.

Decay begins with Broken Country. A creeping guitar, nostalgic in its purposeful delivery, time travels to when punk and post-punk was a thing, and bands like the Gang of Four were rebelling against the superstructure. Broken Country enlightens and links this commonality of the social and political ills of society to as far back as when “civilization” began. This seems evident with the well placed medieval, grand opera, vocals mixed alongside tribal drumming. We return to the 20th century with the introduction of jazz saxophone, which not only marks a new and different musical direction for Broken Country, but as well demonstrates how much that has been learnt, “discovered,” but yet socially things are exactly the same. The presence of the accelerant nature of contemporary technology further amplifies how drastically behind social progress is against technological advancements.

This imbalance is sharply recognizable in Decay’s second track, Raise Your Heads, as the song’s usage of contemporary tools manically implodes, explodes, and finally collapses. Raise Your Head’s hinting of the musical genre Jungle and its derivative, Drum and Bass, demystifies, rejects, and welcomes the idea of the drum-machine. The ghosts of the past are rediscovered and are digitally dressed up in the song’s refraining chant: Raise your heads above your phones. The song passionately expresses extreme, dangerous anxiety, which is pretty much how we avoidingly exist. The suggestion in Einstein’s famous quote is immensely felt: I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots. His fearful posit exposed something far greater than idiocy, but more indicative of the growth of complex irrationality.

We are brought back to the breath on Subterfuge, as the song invites everything that is ignored. The breath existing in this sound waits, allows for gills to respire, for photosynthesis to be discovered. The patience held in every motion, alive in each phrase as subtlety flutters, are the whys we want to communicate with each other. In the simplistic vocal phonetic of Subterfuge’s initial tum tum tah, it describes the wonders of internal beauty, small galaxies under-discovered. Larger than the confusing guile of what is presented, these small galaxies in tum tum tah are given realization, to acquaint themselves, dream even expansively further than a passage of the allowed kind of acceptance that is “journey.”

Subterfuge’s sudden ending destroys the found cohesion of the breath. The introduction of the thickly synced riff of the horns with the heavy bass on Thirteen (when I Was) nomadically drags an uncertain travel. Uncertainties that are richly layered, hypnotically romantic enough for intrigue. The bass’s wide-reaching risk of a recurring evocation reveals an existing foreboding in its distorted melodies. There is nothing safe about this wandering. It is perspicuously suspect, even in the voicing of the horns’ fleeing mirth; there still is devastation.

California Chill is comforting, especially with its wanting to relieve that hunger for reciprocity. Lampooning its glee, the song plays upon the bright shimmers of appearances, while there is a sickening buried deep within. Its rhapsody is almost a Shakespearean soliloquy, a scene of falsehoods displayed as cinematic fashion that is a mirage, a “vision.” The lethargic dream like guitar riffs déjà vus an action to wake up, but its repetitive executions is a defeatist attack against a consistent sleepwalking, a chemically altered state. California Chill expresses an addictive want for a panacea, as it liquidly glaze effortless ease.

The parody does not end with California Chill, it continues in the less sophisticated track Ptandr’usk. Ptandr’usk’s lack of sophistication has everything to do with the song’s deliberate efforts at expressing buffoonery. What better way to do this, but by listening in on a conversation between two teenage boys speaking in German about their exploits at a party. The seriousness of their account is the butt of the joke, as the song’s instrumentation indulges and teases this dialog, while simultaneously snickering on the side. The use of droning techno give rise to this experience, as the environment slips from being in a video arcade to a club, where the walls are a living pulse; where all inhibitions are abandoned, and one cannot help but lose themselves in a wild dance.

Responsive to Ptandr’usk’s buffoonery, So What Do You Want returns to Decay’s unchanging narrative: the search for clarity. It moans a very human condition; the experience of loss resonates from the onset of its introduction. The barrenness of its instrumentation spotlights a core of soulful longing, which the bass and drums drives forward. Their rhythm and blues riff patterns maintains a grounding for the vocals and other instruments to delve into and investigate. So What Do You Want begs for answers in its tonality, and its lyricism portrays this predicament.

Decay ends its kaleidoscopic undertaking with the instrumental track Not The Best of the Evenings. The track attempts to thread a closure for all the avenues, alleys, vestiges existing in the album. Even though Not The Best of the Evenings’ jazz fusion style is an intellectual endeavor for closure, it does not pretentiously reconcile Decay’s conundrum. It however brings about more ceaseless questions, but it appears that there is a level of placidity with this acknowledgement, which is completely satisfying.

You can stream the entire album here:

The Beach Arabs on Broad Strokes

Despite what maybe discerned as a disturbing name choice, The Beach Arabs are actually taking risks that we wouldn’t take. And why are they not playing it safe? I have no clue. Maybe it’s because of the times, where you have nothing to lose since you’ve lost everything. Maybe it’s because all the guitar virtuosos are dusty legends waiting to be mentioned over cocktails. But I foresee the development of this band, as I think there is something there, being conveyed beyond their youthful ploy of drawing attention to themselves with the name The Beach Arabs.  Regardless, the band’s tonality carries the Riot Grrl sound and agenda into a contemporary state of complexities, which can quite possibly be the reason for their name and their risk taking. They may recognize that all our concerns are just noise, which is cleverly communicated in the dry humdrum of the vocals. Nothing about our existence validates a congruence, and this is where I feel The Beach Arabs have found a nerve, that is edgy enough to make you question why?

The Beach Arabs will perform a live acoustic set on (WHFR) Washington Heights Free Radio‘s Broad Strokes hour on Wednesday, September 26, at 8:00pm. Learn how to listen HERE.

You can also check out last month’s show with Passenger Peru, HERE.

A First Stroke of Passenger Peru

Uncommon to commonplace trends, Passenger Peru‘s self titled album subtly dismantles the norm, and engages with teases, licking  a familiarity only when necessary. You are a passenger on their quest. For sound that will rearrange thought processes for listening to and discovering devotion and discipline, I learned so much from this record.

I remember the night I first was introduced to these guys. They were Pet Ghost Project then, and I was so enthralled by their attempt to create something exceptionally special, that I bought all of their cds. The delicate attention to detail that I was waiting for back when they were Pet Ghost Project is now fully expressed in this new direction, where it’s just the two core members of Pet Ghost Project: Justin Stivers, and Justin Gonzalez.

With just Justin Stivers on bass, and Justin Gonzalez on guitar, they eliminated the need for a live drummer/percussionist with great success. You’ll understand what I mean, if you ever go to one of their shows.

Anyway, I’ll be playing Passenger Peru to its entirety on the next Broad Strokes hour with Calypso Sally, Wednesday, August 29 at 8:00pm on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR). The band will be present to answer any questions I, or you may have.

Broad Strokes, Wednesday, June 27 with special guest Fables

The next Broad Strokes episode on Washington Heights Free Radio (WHFR) is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00pm with special guest Fables. The electric duo Fables will be playing a live acoustic set in WHFR’s studio.

Fables

Also, last month’s Broad Strokes was a blast. Listen HERE, see below for the playlist.

Playlist

Intro by Gary Clark Jr.
Fitta Happier by Quakers
Dark Horse by Other Lives
Rise to the Sun by Alabama Shakes
Outro by Gary Clark Jr.
Blood by The Middle East
Hustle Bones by Death Grips
Black Fractal by The Netherlands
Alternative Power to the People by The Dandy Warhols
Other People by Beach House
Disparate Youth by Santigold
The Night by School of Seven Bells
Deeper by THEESatisfaction
No Hands by Mirel Wagner
Steamship Authority by Father Figures

Bringing you stories, live events, and much more, WHFR tries and remains independent of any corporate sponsorship.  So, if you like what WHFR is doing, you can donate by contacting us at info@whfr.org.  DIY forever baby!

The Meaning Of Life and I.

I haven’t been posting as regularly as I use too… Things change, again and again, but anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to: