A Few Short Words

Dense Not Thick



Various: Twin Peaks (OST) / Twin Peaks (Music from the Series)

Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ Sep 29th 2017

Have you heard about Twin Peaks? Well the internet has and it’s gone ahead and explained it far more lucidly than David Lynch’s shrugs ever could. It’s back, anyway, peak Peaks hype. Well, been and gone, actually, and left the soundtrack behind, a twin disc release that’s part nostalgia bomb, part zeitgeist heist, part curatorial curio. It’s an official score and a diegetic OST that hangs its entire value on the chasing and cataloguing of ungraspable Tulpa.

So, if you aren’t part of the cult then why the hell would you want to drink the Kool-Aid? Oh, maybe it’s because Angelo Badalamenti has been an instrumental composer for some of screen’s finest achievements: National Lampoon’s Christmas VacationHoly Smoke!The Wicker Man, not to mention Law & Order, the film that birthed 70 years of procedural pleasure and a sting that just won’t quit. On top of that noise, David Lynch is actually a badass curator and odd little experimental artist in his own right; the kind of presence that people flock around to applaud while asking their neighbour, “What the heck did that mean?”

Well, the meaning has to be about the value in each track right? Sure. Anything that can smash around between Blunted BeatzEddie VederZZ Top, and Otis Redding is worth at least a little look right? Yes, of course, but then maybe you get a little more curious, you’re saying, what the heck do these songs have to do with a show that everybody claims to understand but everyone including the creator is dubiously vague about even at their most verbose, then the next thing you know you’re twenty-five years deep in an unresolvable circular goddamn art piece screaming helloooooooooo at the world with a big damn smirk feeling smug that you’re in on a joke nobody gets but claims the journey of not getting it is actually the joke. So um, RIP Bowie, RIP Log Lady, RIP pop culture man, because here we are, neck deep in the event horizon with no idea what year this is and a glowing ball of light ready to burst out of our collective faces.

Bonus points for keeping your copy wrapped in plastic.

Saint Surly: Lo/Sketches

Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ May 25th 2017

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Saint Surly, so long that some might have thought he was out of the game, then -out of nowhere- instead of the unexpected but predictable follow up to The Gleaner Part 1, up pops Lo/Sketches, something altogether better.

Saint Surly has always leaned heartily into instrumental hip hop, with a wild array of samples and eclectic beatscapes that often reminisce over the more obscure elements of the genre, though without languishing in the homage trap or rolling around in references like some kind of sample swine.

It’s a certain kind of restraint you don’t often see, but, for Lo/Sketches, it seems those reins haven’t exactly been loosened so much as changed out for a better bridle setIn some ways it can feel as overt as it does subtle, some of the sampling comes close to basically checking the chambers, and while it digs pretty hard on a few of these notable tropes it does so sparingly and with an organic grace that is immediate in a nostalgic way. While it can feel a little too conspicuously humble at times, that’s far preferable to any kind of overt gloating and actually leaves some room for interpretive enjoyment.

Most notable are the portions of full blown lyricism, a rarity for Surly that drags the hip hop out of the instrumental and throws it on stage. Tracks like DustyOnetime, and Guilty shine rather than glare, adding a robust new dimension that never felt missing until it appeared.

For something billed as sketches, or self-referentially as “a mix of hazy instrumentals and spot-welded rap acapellas [Sic],” the overall flow, track to track transitions, and general smoothness is really to be commended. There’s a seamless quality that’s lent in part by the obvious lo-fi intent and occasional scratch masking, but it comes out as curation, these are contiguous chapters bound together and not simply a box full of singles for sale. Lo/Sketches is a wonderful and welcome surprise that shows Saint Surly at his best.

El Michels Affair: Return to the 37th Chamber

Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ Apr 24th 2017

Back in 2009 Leon Michels, le titular the in El Michels Affair, put together a collection of funk riddled neo-soul renditions of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The original being an inarguably seminal album, certainly sacrosanct to some, Michels efforts were met with both derision and celebration. Seen by some critics as poorly sketched shadows of their inspirations, and by others (Raekwon included) as interesting extensions of source material, obviously the best thing to do was wait almost a decade then try the same thing all over again.

Where Enter the 37th Chamber was a more straight laced piece of interpretive derivation, Return to the 37th Chamber offers a much more oblique approach to appropriation, with far less Wu-Tang touchstone moments than the 2009 offering. In the intervening years acts like Vulture St Tape GangKerbside Collection or BADBADNOTGOOD have done a lot more to reshape the territory, El Michels Affair seems almost tawdry in its ministrations now, a little late game Mrs. Robinson play.

The whole thing would have been better served without the immediate affiliation, the ghost of the Clan hovers over this, and not completely in that pleasant Patrick Swayze way. Standing alone these could have been a brace of largely instrumental curios smattered with surprising vocals, a handful of interesting thematic deviations and a benignly upbeat disposition, making your toes take note to tap later. So you know, all in all, good, good, not bad.

That’s what a Return to the 37th Chamber feels like, really, not exactly fresh and not exactly stale, a state of fresh-yesterday forward thinking nostalgia that feels like a score to an unwritten movie you’re sure you know you saw, which, if you wanna talk appropriation, is like a stalker becoming their own victim by wearing their parents’ clothes. That’s not how identity theft works.

The Meltdown: The Meltdown

Article originally appeared on 4ZZZ April 6th 2017

Who would have thought there were so many Australians with soul. It seems like every week there’s a new quartet, collaboration, ensemble or collective, crooning their way to success with brassy aplomb, most of them with more instruments than a hedgehog has quills. It’s almost enough to make you want to have a meltdown, until you actually have one. Which leads us here, either a humorous segue or grim portent depending on your narrative lens.

More than just an unfortunate spillage in the dairy isle and a six month ban, The Meltdown in question here are a seventeen piece funk, country, soul, guitar, synth, posi-goth, hyphen behemoth. Scratch that, they’re actually just a modest eight piece of Melbourne based Soul/Jazz/Blues. Brought to you buy the purveyors of the finest radioactive gospel.

They’re really good at what they do too, managing to make a forty minute record play on long past any real sense of time, and the tongue-in-cheek decision to put long winded country blues ballad Forever And Always before Don’t Hesitate’s alt-gospel proselytism of positivity is just one of many master strokes of ironic cohesion. Swaying between bouts of mild-tempo’d pain and moderately paced pleasure, big-brass spear and backup vocals at hand, un-derisively self-titled is an album poised to leap into the roiling fray of the fatted music industry midriff.

We live in tumultuous times, and having something familiar like this to fall back on can be a great relief. So, imagine the comfort of slipping in and out of genre tropes like trying on the guests’ coats at your parents’ key party, this one a little George Clinton and that a little Marvin Gaye, all of them still super-cozy despite or because of being so big you’ll never touch the sides. In this way, The Meltdown are a misnomer made balm and prescribed against their moniker. Keep rubbing it on and surely you will find relief.

4ZZZ Design Series

4ZZZ Monthly Digest

Monthly digest of reviews content created for 4ZZZ

Adobe Spark Page

4ZZZ Reviews Digest

Monthly digest of reviews content created for 4ZZZ

4ZZZ Reviews

4ZZZ Reviews Digest

Monthly digest of reviews content created for 4ZZZ

4ZZZ Reviews

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑