Friday, August 30, 2013

Astronautalis / Rickolus split on Limited Fanfare Records

This isn't just a split single between two artists, that's not what's unusual about this release on Limited Fanfare Records. It’s about two good friends, Astronautalis and Rickolus composing backing tracks for each other and about being comfortable enough to trust the other person and do something radically different from what their fans expect.

I thought I found the wrong wiki page for Astronautalis when it described him as an ‘Alternative Hip Hop Artist because this A-Side track, "The Rainmakers" whisper counts in on slow acoustic fingerpicking and a soft kick drum rhythm. Andy is close to the mic with a tough, gravelly vocal singing about being young and stupid. The scratch of fingers sliding up chords, the slow evolution of the track as his vocal dies out, the narrator looking back on his youth, on the mistakes, the wildness. It’s a track that highlights his talent for pure storytelling with a country style ballad that reminds me of Howe Gelb or The Walkabouts naturalistic heartbreak. Thinking about how this came together, the way he’s able to create an underlying vocal melody that doesn’t follow along with the instrumentation and becomes an original part feels like it would have to have been preplanned. But maybe this is even more about being that close and able to work like this. I don't know if I'm more impressed with the range of their material or the fact that they could work across distance like this so successfully.

On Rickolus’ side "Fallen Streets" comes on with a unique Jason Molina style vocal, and a heavy 808 deep groove. A cheap sound that sounds incredible on vinyl with this slick production that easily shakes the windows with those lower frequencies hidden in that kick sound. Both Astronautilus and Rickolus’ vocal styles are a perfect match for coming together across a split. A casually strummed acoustic works its sad magic between chorus highs of thumping impossible programmed beats. Rickolus’ vocal is doubled up, talking about fallen streets and never going back. I don’t know if it was deliberate that they both work with sentimentality and nostalgia. A Fucking Champs synth sounding multiplied guitar breaks into church bells and subtle chords. Snappy snare and static high hats against the organic foundation make for an unlikely track, but hell, this whole single is one of those weird artifacts that shouldn’t exist. Their collective stylistic departures and collaboration was then done specifically for the 7” format? I don't know if it was Limited Fanfare who suggested this initially or these two came up with it completely on their own, but whoever realized this had to be pressed on a single was right.
Rickolus says:
About a year ago my friend Andy and I talked about doing a collaboration together for my friends 7” label. It was a warm day in Texas and we were sipping coffee on the porch of our friends house. We decided that we would each write a song with no vocals and send them to each other to finish. The result was the songs “The Rainmakers” and “Fallen Streets” and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. It’s a pleasure to work with people you admire and it’s even better when those people are your old friends.

Get this from Limited Fanfare Records.

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