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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Club of the Sons
Label: Spacefarm Records
Time: 9 tracks / 32:59
Ladies and gentlemen: in this corner, from parts unknown, weight unknown… Club of the Sons!
With Adam LaClave (Earthsuit, Macrosick, occasional MuteMath co-conspirator) on vocals and various keys, Jonathan Allen (Macrosick, MuteMath) on bass and samples, David ‘Hutch’ Hutchison (Earthsuit, Macrosick) on drums, and Chris Evans providing live samples as the core group, Club of the Sons has produced its long-anticipated debut project, Young Quanta. Ok, so maybe they aren’t exactly from parts unknown, but it’s no easy task, pigeonholing Club of the Sons - and I’m sure that’s pretty much the point of the whole exercise. Part soul music, part new wave, part electronica, part Euro-pop, part funk… all of these but none of these, Club of the Sons emerges from the murky swamps of Louisiana leaving a trail of mystery, mysticism and some mighty tasty techno-soul.
LaClave and Allen were the core of Macrosick, which formed in 2003. The band was a creative mix of Devo-esque new wave, Talking Heads influenced art-rock and the catch-all, alternative – a good mix, but resulting in a band that seemed to live in its own head, lacking a visceral, human touch. Club of the Sons is a much more primeval band (if you can call such modern sounds ‘primeval’), eclectic and musically surprising - amazingly soulful and almost dangerous at the same time.
A very visual, theatrical act, Club of the Sons nevertheless scores on Young Quanta solely with the sounds that come through your speakers. The enigmatic Mr. LaClave seems to have found a musical groove that allows him to step out beyond his more robotic ‘Macrosick’ persona, perhaps discovering (and uncovering) who he really is as a musical artist. Still drawing on elements of new wave, electronica, and indie rock, Young Quanta mixes in huge helpings of funk and soul, fleshing out the artist’s musical identity.
Whatever else Young Quanta might be – and the opening prologue ominously intones, ‘…this was swamp energy in human skin….’ - it’s certainly an animal with quite an impressive musical pedigree, having the creative DNA of bands like Earthsuit, Macrosick and MuteMath in its blood. Without question, LaClave’s vocals are the centerpiece of the project, and with good reason. Deeply rooted in a Stevie Wonder style soul (listen to “Don’t Buy Me a Wolf No More,’ in particular ), LaClave seems to play with at least three different vocal timbres, using (or not using) vibrato, semi-operatic tones, and any other vocal technique he feels like pulling out of his arsenal at any particular time. Textured vocal harmonies contrast and play with electronically morphed lyrical passages suggesting a vaguely romantic atmosphere clashing with an otherworldly ambiance. Soul music for alien scientists? As good a guess as any.
Musically, songs stop and start, change direction at will, and most always feature strong melodies riding in and through waves of funk conjured up by the thick-as-a-blanket drumming of Hutchison and the frenetic, infectious bass playing of Allen. I haven’t yet decided if the frenetic timings and rhythms are ingeniously complex or insanely convoluted, but they certainly work! The songs are filled with other-worldly samples and inhabited by Oriental and Native American motifs, liable to change on a dime into something you’ve simply never heard before.
Young Quanta scores on many levels, not being bound by any specific genre. Although this is mostly a ‘vocal’ album, there’s the atmospheric “Quanta’s Theme” - a spoken-word prologue awash with orchestral moments and a montage of musical and ambient sounds, and the almost-instrumental, jazz-infused “How to Develop a Magic Word,” as a surprisingly sophisticated diversion.
If there’s a lyrical theme, I haven’t found it yet, although there seem to be plenty of references to animals, in song titles (“Hollywood Animal,” “Don’t Buy me a Wolf no More,” and - by implication - “Extinction in Our Eyes”) and in the lyrics of various songs: “People are just people, who need animals…. making snakes for friends… Just to meet the animals,” etc. On the other hand, eclectic lyrics that seem to imply some sort of romantic imagery abound. From “Triggers While You Sleep,” we hear: “Your eyes, your face, your skin was made from glories / and time alone was spent, where angels could not go… I tried to wake up, but you were in somebody’s eyes…”