The Hiatus Is Over
Well, first of all, it really is great to be back after being gone for a little over a month. However, I am disappointed that my last post on a mix-CD called Aural Film Noir Excursions received only one comment over the past month. I hope I still have some readers out there in Blogland. If you guys are out there and you appreciate what I do here at Eclectic Grooves, please give me a shout.
And now onto our regularly scheduled program:
I was fortunate enought to see Deerhoof twice in the last year, and their recent show at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR was definitely something you had to see to believe. Greg Saunier played the drums like a speed-addled crackhead who's had one too many cups of coffee. I was in awe as his octopus-like drumming skills captivated the sold-out all ages show. He is essentially a rock drummer, but his fills are as funky as the JB's and his drumming is mostly reminiscent of free-jazz legends such as Milford Graves or Sunny Murray. You have to see him live to experience his drumming in all it's glory, because the records only seem to scratch the surface of his undeniable talent. The only other drummers out there that continue to blow my mind are Free-Jazz drummers Han Bennink, Jim Black and Hamid Drake. The rest of the band is propelled by his energy and feeds off of that for a transcendental live experience. Go see Deerhoof whenever they come to your neck of the woods. You won't be sorry!
Deerhoof are a three-piece art-rock band from San Francisco who have churned out nine mind-blowing records over the last decade. They used to be a four-piece, but guitarist Chris Cohen left shortly after the band's last album was released to pursue his own project called The Curtains. After Cohen left, the band must have been inspired to one-up the sonic frenzy of The Runners Four by encapsulating the dizzying array of creative ideas explored on that album and transforming them into the mini-epic art-damaged masterpieces that became Friend Opportunity.
Deerhoof's latest aural platter Friend Opportunity was released on Kill Rock Stars on 1/23, and it's a monster of a record. If you aren't familiar with Deerhoof's music, a great primer would be to pick up their last record called The Runners Four. Purists will tell you that the only stuff worth it's salt is their earlier material like The Man, the King, the Girl and Halfbird. While I can't deny this, I implore you to check out Friend Opportunity and let the playful childlike melodies and stop-start herky-jerky rhythms be your new soundtrack for waking up without your morning triple espresso latte'. You won't be needing coffee to wake up, because this record is so upbeat and infectious that it will jumpstart your morning. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Friend Opportunity, clocking in at just under 37 minutes, is an amazing exercise in restraint because it takes the band less time to say more. The first nine tracks fly by so fast that your senses will be overloaded with an abundance of creative sound patterns and textures. On the opening track The Perfect Me, the band wastes no time in getting the party started as they bust out the gates with a menacing organ line coupled with the complex octopus drumming of Greg Saunier. This song changes tempo several times and mixes everything from childlike Japanese vocals, classic rock riffing, stop-start dynamics and frenetic free-jazz drumming all together in an eclectic musical stew. +81 is the obvious choice for a single with a punchy marching drum and horn snippet that segueways into a rocking acrobatic riff. Then, Satomi Matsuzaki's cryptic verses lead the listener into the most infectious chorus these ears have been graced with in quite some time. Believe E.S.P considerably slows down the pace with a catchy chorus of La-La-La's complemented by a funky bassline, electronic snippets and seductive vocals. The Galaxist starts out with a wistful vocal and plaintive acoustic guitar that sounds like Stereolab, but then bursts into a gargantuan Sabbath-like riff with hyper-speed drumming that fades away as a beautiful chorus emerges out of nowhere. By the time you get to Look Away, you finally get to take a breath, regroup and prepare yourself for an earth shattering exercise in dynamics as the track slowly wraps itself around you like a snake with spiraling, intertwining guitars and creepy childlike vocals. In the middle of the track, the snake injects it's venom into your bloodstream with a cacophonous climax of guitars similar to The Velvet Underground's European Son. The sounds and textures of this record deserve a headphone listen, if only to truly appreciate the time and effort that went into its creation.
I have posted four tracks from the record so you can get a grasp of the multi-layered sonic presence that unfolds into your ears. Trust me, it took me awhile before I could start appreciating this record, but like all great records it continues to be more rewarding after each listening experience. If you dig these tracks, please pick up the record here, or at your local record store.
From: Friend Opportunity [KRS, 2007]