Music

Nigel and the Dropout feat. Passalacqua - "Rearrange" (audio) (premiere)

Detroit’s Nigel and the Dropout have been a genre-bending outfit since their inception.

Detroit’s Nigel and the Dropout have been a genre-bending outfit since their inception. Melding psych rock with punk attitude, contorting it with prog elements and electronic dance beats, then wrapping it all in a veneer of theatricality, the duo of Nigel Van Hemmye and Andrew “the Dropout” Ficker consistently conjures an evocative sound. Their latest tune, “Rearrange”, pushes their creative envelope further than before, incorporating jazz and the hip-hop stylings of fellow Detroiters Passalacqua.

The song starts funkily with a throbbing and fuzzy bassline and its raw energy doesn’t abate. Passalacqua’s Bryan “Mister” Lackner and Brent “Blak” Smith trade verses amid punctuated beats and sparking key notes. Ficker’s sneering vocals come in on the refrain, the infectious dynamism surging until about the two-minute mark, when a saxophone bubbles up from a trembling foundation and whirs like a theremin.

Van Hemmye said the song was born of the natural camaraderie that exists between Detroit artists, regardless of their genres.

“Sitting at Assemble Sound (a collaborative artist workspace in Detroit), I was messing around with this drum beat,” he said. “Brent happened to be hanging out at the time and mentioned it reminded him of something Mary J. Blige would do and he liked it. A couple weeks go by of me developing the structure and producing it a lot more and I send it out to them and the Dropout, everyone's on board. Working with both Passalacqua guys was my first time actually recording rappers, but they laid down everything in maybe an hour. Very, very easy. In the meantime, Andrew and I had been waiting for an excuse to bust out this saxophone he just bought. He had played in high school (until he dropped out) and hadn't picked it up in years. Sometimes I think there is this golden spot of creativity where you're forced to make something simple solely because of your inability to make it complicated; I think his solo really represents that.”

Nigel and the Dropout released their fourth full-length album, Folderal, in May 2015. “Rearrange” is planned to be a single-only release.

Nigel and the Dropout and Passalacqua are performing Friday, January 15th, at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, Michigan.

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