[28 February 2011]
I was searching for nice a visual analogue to Meteorology, and then I found the perfect one, right on Frivolous’ website. It’s a haunted wooden tree house with loose planks swaying back and forth, while a bird (a bat?) totters in the sky above it. Play any song from the surprisingly cohesive Meteorology with this in the background and it totally works. Like that little bird/bat, the second album from Vancouver native and Berlin denizen Daniel Gardner bumps along with endearing imbalance, and I can envision the tree house as a menagerie of exotic creatures and weird apparitions boogieing to a steady microhouse beat. The fake bird squawks come out for “One Fine Solstice”, an on-the-nose send-up of Martin Denny with that long, lazy piano that always reminds me of suburban tiki parties. Later, “Serenade des Excentriques” bends and warps a two-second opera sample like taffy. Frivolous thrives on putting things like these together, on giving all sorts of musical frivolity a chance to party in concert.
Piecemeal and ramshackle by design, Meteorology adheres to Gardner’s fiercely defended rubric of using whatever materials are on hand to produce his compositions. Frivolous doesn’t really aim to be sexy. As if he were cooking stew with a chicken’s neck and gizzards, Meteorology sounds like he’s stirring a pot of rejected samples that have only just now been exhumed. It might have turned out closer to pretentious horseplay than a left field success if it didn’t make your body move, but fortunately, Gardner assembled a host of A-list beats that thump, push and sigh like the best that the Europeans can muster. It’s a record that shoots for the hips and maintains its momentum almost despite itself, one whose initial strangeness quickly melts away to reveal something approachable, fresh, and, in select moments, even thrilling.