Imagine, if you will: artfully strung together phrases, symbiotic progressions of sensory bliss, as well as atmospheric lassitude; crashing and gushing walls of sound carefully tumbling down upon one another only to methodically rebuild themselves fragment by sinking fragment; hyperactive rhythmic constructions that seemingly hurdle forward, dispersing as quickly as they can be identified. Sound appealing? You’d be surprised. Laborious a task as it is to try and pin-point just exactly what Deerhoof are trying to achieve when they open up the door to their particular world of eccentric aural wonder, I would be remiss not to point out the fact that labels, for all intents and purposes, are (quite frequently) a pain in the ass. Sometimes it’s best to experience things for yourself.
At a perfunctory glance, this caution-to-the-wind quartet, Deerhoof, hailing from San Francisco by way of Japan by way of Oz, could, perhaps, be lumped into the same category as your run of the mill no-wavers with ne’er an eyebrow to be raised. And it is, in no way, an egregious statement. The compelling factor, though, seems to be the apparent disconnect between Deerhoof’s more apparent aspirations and what is actually churned out as the finished product. The simple truth that some may be inclined to overlook is that, at its core, Deerhoof is strictly a pop group. Anything else is peripheral. The stilted ambience, the perplexing jolts of kinetic energy, the oddly timed and, sometimes, disturbing vocal experimentation. It all just happens to be a method to the madness.
On the group’s latest EP, Green Cosmos (which was originally slated to be exclusive to Japan), Deerhoof employs shredding guitar riffs, jarring jazz time signatures, and a gentle spirit to effectively bring the ruckus. Hooks are introduced and then abandoned; moods are communicated only to be offset and, yet, it remains one of their most accessible inaccessible works to date. Deerhoof, most notably, has perfected its talents for utilizing compelling progressions that invite as well as linger. Quirky as they may be, the entry points are there. You just have to recognize them. The EP’s best track, “Spiral Golden Town”, fuses an electro-based pop beat with a funkier jazzercised type melody laid across it. A dreamy classical arrangement tops off the hook, and Satomi gives the track its last bit of graceful oddity.
Even on the more hallucinogenic outings found on Green Cosmos, there is an ever-present affable aura that accompanies the idiosyncrasies that may provide insights into Deerhoof’s more pop-based inclinations. One would be hard pressed to find two tracks more ticklish in their mentalities then the EP’s opener, “Come See the Duck” or the peculiar yet wayward, “Keneko Kitten”. The point is, however, that music such as this really requires no stamp or set moniker. In fact, it quite effortlessly rejects such things with every downbeat and off-timed note.
More often than not, labels do nothing more than create limitations. And what a crime it would be for the creative minds in such a uniformly odd outfit as Deerhoof to be limited to any one thing. With an experience as unique as listening to any Deerhoof album it is best for the listener to enter this land of sonic afterthoughts with little to no expectations. Why not let your imagination run wild? They certainly have.
// Notes from the Road
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