I have been putting this one off for a little while, and not for any good reason. I have been listening to this album a lot lately, and I have always been meaning to talk about it, I just haven’t. Deep down I think the reason is that I have already spoke about one half of Animal, Philip Rabalais, a lot, both here and on my blog. I had convinced myself that I was starting to maybe over-saturate the scene with my reviews of the fine folks from Fairfield. But, I reached a point where I just couldn’t think of a real reason not to share this one. So yeah, I guess I’m going to talk about more Fairfield art.
Despite all my hemming and hawing, I am surprisingly okay with this for one simple reason: this album is incredible. There is just something special about it that separates itself from other local acts. It has an easily identifiable, almost Kate Bush quality that is right up my alley. For those familiar with Rabalias, his work in Trouble Lights and Utopia Park has helped define Fairfield as a hotbed for electronic music. The heavy beats have brought many a people to the dance floor and gallons of sweat has been poured.
Animal, though, is not like the others. This is a very strict and polished sound with each beat and note designed to strike a nerve. Not to dance, but to just pay attention. Vocalist Darla Murphy (no relation, also the David Murphy in the credits of the album is just a coincidence and is not me) has a beautiful voice, with exceptional range. It is a hypnotic blitz of high notes that lulls you in and then occasionally smacks you in the mouth, before reverting back to hypnosis. At times it is childlike, at others sexy, Murphy does a lot with what she was given.
But it isn’t just Murphy’s voice alone that makes this album a success, it is the way her voice is used. She has a unique pop quality that is highlighted stunningly by the production work of Rabalais. While she could carry an album on her own, the way Rabalais uses her voice as an instrument all to itself, which I think is highlighted best in the second track “Milky”, defines the album. Her vocals are used both as a highlight and in the background depending on the mood or goal of the track. It is mixed and shredded, making a bed and a lead all out of one or two notes.
Where the production shines the most is in the more upbeat track “Biggest One”. The music is as close to the Utopia Park/Trouble Lights beats Rabalias is best known for, but still carries its own startling uniqueness. Murphy’s voice is hidden a bit more, but still adds to the track. Mostly though, this is an album of stunning ambience and beauty. It is not easily digestible or danceable, but it succeeds on its own merit.
This is one of my favorite albums this year for a lot of reasons. I think if I were to listen to it tomorrow (and I probably will), I could probably come up even more interesting minutia. However, in the meantime, give it a shot. I think for those who are becoming more and more enthralled by electronic music and what it is capable of, this is a perfect album to listen to.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 9/6 – 9/12
Brass Bed w/ Poison Control Center and Volcano Boys – Vaudeville Mews 9/7 10pm
PCC you’re familiar with hopefully, but Brass Bed is an incredible New Orleans indie act with a special sound.
Viva Montesa CD Release Show – Wooly’s 9/8 9pm
Viva Montesa is a loud, two-piece rock band with a bright future. I am looking forward to hearing the album, as I’m sure it is awesome.
Adam “Bomber” Baumert Memorial Show – House of Bricks 9/9 5pm
Lots of local hip hop talent, including D.O.P.E. Clique and Izzy Dunfore, come together to pay tribute to local artist Baumert, who tragically passed away recently. Donations go towards his memorial fund.