Xu Xu Fang
Seven Days Now
Despite kicking off with an overloaded bassline that at first sounds like that ass next to you at a traffic light who still thinks that bass and nothing else makes for an enjoyable listening experience, eventually a thick fuzz of tribal drums, smoldering walls of organ, vinyl pop static and otherworldly girl group coos congeal into the form and shape of the Cure’s “Fascination Street.” The central melody line is rendered by fragile, quavery recorders, barely heard over the monstrous drum tattoos. Gender lines are blurred and upturned by giving Smith’s vocals over to Barbara Cohen, creating a sound so dissonant it works, withmixes of Nico iciness and girl group soul in the delivery. This version adds a new level of dubby discomfort and third-dimensional tactility to the Cure’s fever dreams of a place where physical love becomes a suffocating horror.
“Seven Days Now” begins as a lazy, humid country-blues shuffle where the cadence of Cohen’s voice reminds me of Mark Lanegan’s sepulchral drawl — and the coos and oohs of female backing vocalists carry the song along languidly before it’s enveloped in a thick cloud of guitar fuzz, fading from view. “Your Way” echoes the eldritch majesty of Massive Attack, a wall of majestic synchronized beats and bathysphere pings are augmented by Fender Rhodes piano, finger clicks and Cohen’s ever-ascending, unerring, and bell-like vocals, the opiated ether only momentarily pierced by a monstrous phased guitar solo and soul diva wailing far in the background. You may, of course, had heard this song on Gossip Girl. Strange typing that.
“Underground” adds the Shinkansen-precise propulsive power of krautrock to the sonic brew, tightly interlocked bass and drums becoming the white lines on a precise highway; there are some wicked, though momentary breakdowns that skate this close to funk, adding a really interesting counterpoint to the shoegazer-style (Slowdive, Ride) vocals. “Where is Everybody?” finds the building blocks for its sultry symphonic sprawl from several minutes of traffic sounds — a cinematic trip hop beat crests and ebbs against Middle-Eastern style vocals, shuddering pulses of distortion, fat distorted basslines, and undulating urban electronics wrenched from the very shapes of the streets. It’s fifty-stories tall and it is the very sound of boundaries collapsing and a world forming right in front of you. Bobby Tamkin and his collective have left their respective rockist pasts far off in the distance. Good on them.
Xu Xu Fang: www.xuxufang.com