Saturday, August 13, 2011
Ducktails live on WFMU on Inflated Records
The guys over at Inflated Records were kind enough to send this Ducktails live full length over the other day. I had heard Matt did a live appearance over there, probably even a couple of them by now, but didn't know it was pressed on sweet 12" yellow vinyl.
On the A-Side, it's great to hear Matt introduce, "Backyard" and the band and then get right to the warbling, slow burn. A shaker comes in and that main melody is joined by another slightly reverbed electric. Somehow, this interpretation of a backyard feels universal, I'm always picturing this fall sundown scene, just finished mowing the grass, and it's finally quiet. Taking all this time to manicure this weird suburban version of nature. It's taming is comforting and at the same time Ducktails evokes a sunny '70s Sunday feel, like a faded hipstamatic print where I know it's been filtered and manipulated to seem old, but still you get some kind of jaded emotional response to the off colors and faded edges.
The thing about Ducktails, and seeing Matt recreate this material live, is not the amount of pedals and blinking lights on the floor in front of him, but that at the end of the day, he's a great guitarist capable of switching around all kinds of styles and moods. You could imagine "Beach Point Pleasant", off his first single by the way, coming out of finding that great disintegration loop-like sample one night an playing for hours. The odd rollercoaster, circular rhythm that Matt plays a wah wah type shimmery phaser melody over this hypnotizing structure. The great thing I keep forgetting about this recording is that it's live and he's really improvising these pieces in new ways. His guitar playing is always loose and lends itself to this kind of great reinterpretation every performance. It's easy to get lost here, and completely forget about where this track has been, the gradual shifting of sounds always end up far from where it began.
Finally, "The Mall" and here Matt introduces the band and the station for this vocal track. Counting off and immediately launching into his delivery which is as loose as his guitar playing, fitting this easy vibe describing the moon and the ocean. Vocally it's like a fading memory, the details coming in waves, but you can't really make sense of them in any kind of narrative. A barely understood dream and it's surprisingly brief for a band that seems to be most at home wandering off the trail and forging a new path. At the end of this side Matt introduces the B-side Real Estate track, "Let's Rock the Beach" and hearing a myspace address on vinyl never gets old.
The B-Side continues with Matt remarking, "I'm going to have to tune my guitar" while the beat is called up. The guitar is back to it's fading in and out, hard to grasp slow wah. I love this contradiction in the song title and the laid back, canned bossanova rhythm and the mellow organ underneath. It's not the massive waves, reverb surf rock of the west coast, it's the consistent rolling, slow crashes of a calm northeast seaside. This is a dockers, boat shoe vision of rocking the beach...white shorts and grass on the dunes.
This track nicely devolves into organ drones and wood percussion free jazz. A heavy video game electronic sound gradually rises and fades and I equate Ducktails with Cory Archangel for some reason, maybe it has that sensibility I love in Corys artwork, the engagement with pop culture in weird subversive ways. Awknowledging those ridiculous inescapable influences and spinning gold out of this pop junkyard. Ducktails is working with the same basic tools.
Sounds like there's a track break and they round out this record with a lengthy track, "Surf's up" off his self titled record from Not Not Fun. The synth sounds are dominant on this one, creating their own kind of revolving loop. Another synth sound drones away, bent and sliding into a middle eastern strange scale effect which gradually grows and becomes more and more the headline of the piece, a pile of effects jettisoning it way out to space. The whole time keeping that improvised jam feel to the otherworldly sound, it's a space jam this time, another planet beach, and early electronic pioneers would be proud to hear Ducktails take on this just out of reach future. The electronics keep multiplying and harshly swirling into the track, a blend of keyboard and possibly guitar? It's nice to not even know or care, it's a ride I keep willingly wanting to take over and over.
You can go check out this set, here from Free Albums Galore and then order the vinyl from Inflated Records.