While the COVID-19 pandemic put plans for their third album on hold, Brooklyn-based psychedelic dream-pop/jazz/soul sextet GADADU saw it as an opportunity to revisit an old song and reconstruct it remotely. The result is “dosaardvark”, their new single, which premieres here on PopMatters.
The song was originally recorded in 2015 during the band’s early days. Due to the restrictions of social distancing in 2020, the band’s leaders, keyboardist Nicki Adams and vocalist/violist Hannah Selin determined that revisiting the song would require re-recording some of the instruments remotely. Consequently, drummer Arthur Vint and tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito laid down new parts, which can be heard alongside Adams, Selin, bassist Daniel Stein and trumpet player (and Nicki’s brother) Patrick Adams.
The song maintains a dreamy, psychedelic jazz vibe that’s typical of GADADU‘s signature sound, which can be heard on their previous full-length albums, And I See Night (2015) and Outer Song (2018). But the lyrics are pulled from Biblical inspiration. When Moses is confronted by the burning bush on Mount Sinai, he asks the supernatural presence for its name, and God answers, “I am that I am.” This becomes a mantra sung by Selin throughout “dosaardvark”, eventually morphing into “I am that I am you“. This type of empathy is particularly resonant during the chaos of 2020, with racial inequality and planet-crippling issues such as climate change and a global pandemic. Selin’s arresting vocals provide a soothing balm.
Musically, the song is steeped in an ethereal brand of jazz that occasionally evokes Miles Davis’ lush Gil Evans collaborations with its full swells of brass, or even bits of ’70s fusion as Nicki attacks the electric piano with a mesmerizing blend of skill and emotion. Patrick and Ishito round out the complex arrangements with plenty of brilliant soloing, and Vint and Stein provide a steady, measured rhythm section.
While recreated and released during trying global times, “dosaardvark” sees GADADU providing relief and reassurance with their unique blend of dream-pop, jazz, and soul.