#htmlcaption16 #htmlcaption10 #htmlcaption11 #htmlcaption12 #htmlcaption4 #htmlcaption13 #htmlcaption14 #htmlcaption15

loading...

Translate

Badge Époque Ensemble - Nature, Man & Woman EP Music Album Reviews

Max Turnbull’s newest group takes its name from a song co-written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison—then stretches it from a three-minute pop song into a 14-minute improvisatory mission statement.

If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that no dad-rock deity is too square to be reclaimed as cool. In recent years, the lodestars for contemporary indie rock have gradually shifted from the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Gang of Four, and Sonic Youth to Michael McDonald, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Collins, and Dire Straits. But there remains one boomer icon who’s never been considered for hipster rehabilitation: Eric Clapton. Maybe it’s the fact that Clapton is forever tethered to a blues-guitar tradition that’s increasingly unfashionable in the 21st century, or maybe it’s the unshakeable bitter aftertaste of his alcohol-fuelled misadventures in racism, but to date we have seen no chillwave cover of “Tears in Heaven,” no onstage duet with Mac DeMarco on “Wonderful Tonight”; even the Black Keys haven’t touched the guy. But on the second release from Toronto’s Badge Époque Ensemble, not only does Clapton receive a rare acknowledgement from an experimental underground act normally besotted with left-field jazz, we learn that his legacy is stitched right into the band’s name.


Badge Époque Ensemble is the latest project from Max Turnbull, an artist whose DIY, Madlib-inspired approach to sound design is completely at odds with Clapton’s technical precision, yet the two share unlikely career parallels. Turnbull first surfaced in the late 2000s as Slim Twig, a highly stylized, pompadoured persona that was equal parts rockabilly rebel, avant-punk provocateur, and hip-hop-schooled sound collagist. But since the release of 2015’s Thank You for Stickin’ With Twig, he’s dropped the alias and receded into more anonymous roles, whether backing wife Meg Remy in U.S. Girls, joining her in the mondo-rock supergroup Darlene Shrugg, or moonlighting with astral-jazz travellers the Cosmic Range. Badge Époque Ensemble represents his most extreme act of self-negation yet. Where Slim Twig channelled outsized personalities like Nick Cave and Jon Spencer, Turnbull is now forging kinship with the unsung composers and faceless session players of library music, the funky, fusion-flavored stock soundtracks that permeated documentaries, cop shows, and sports telecasts in the ’70s.

It’s an evolution that oddly reflects Clapton’s own sidestep out of the spotlight in the late ’60s, when—having tired of Cream’s acid-rock excess—he sought refuge in the more tuneful Blind Faith and Delaney & Bonnie, before obscuring his identity altogether in Derek and the Dominoes. So it’s rather fitting that Nature, Man & Woman should climax with a cover of “Badge,” a song that Clapton co-wrote with George Harrison for Cream’s final album—and, some 40 years later, has provided Turnbull with the inspiration for his new group’s handle. In this case, “cover” is a gross understatement—Turnbull and co. stretch “Badge” from a three-minute pop song into a 14-minute improvisatory mission statement that wholly earns its self-edifying rebrand as “Badge Theme.” After faithfully mirroring the original’s structure for three verse reps (with Alia O’Brien’s flute tracing Clapton’s vocal melody), Badge Époque leave the song in the dust and embark on an extended funk odyssey atop a lithe congas’n’clavinet groove. But while the two versions of the song couldn’t be more different, they serve the same transformative function for their creators: For Clapton, “Badge” was a gateway between his guitar-god roots and the pop-oriented songcraft that would define his career from thereon out; for Turnbull, “Badge Theme” charts a record collector’s journey from the comforts of classic rock into the bottomless abyss of rare-groove crate-digging and private-press psychedelia.

loaading...
If “Badge Theme” represents the totality of the Badge Époque experience, the other two tracks on Nature, Man & Woman respectively provide more discrete showcases of the band’s wandering impulses and compositional ingenuity. The smoke-covered title track doesn’t waver from its foot-dragging, 16-rpm rhythm for its entire six-minute duration, but there’s no lack of action: O’Brien’s flute alternates between sustained squeals and cosmic clusters, guitarist Chris Bezant chips off shards of bluesy guitar skronk as if he were carving a shiv, and the appearance of a high-pitched synth frequency sends the whole thing swishing left to right like a stomach in the early throes of food poisoning. By sharp contrast, the hair-raising “Zealous Child” nods more vigorously in the direction of O’Brien’s main gig in Blood Ceremony, as guest singer Dorothea Paas lends her eerie, hypnotized-cult-member voice to a song that gallops along the tightrope between pastoral prog and proto-metal. It’s the closest this band has veered toward a formal rock song, and perhaps not surprisingly, “Zealous Child” recently received the greatest validation that a group of Canadian library-music heads could ask for: last month, it was used as bumper music on a broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. But Badge Époque’s natural utility as a soundtrack to slap shots and body checks shouldn’t obscure their true appeal: this is background music that demands your full attention.


View the original article here
Share on Google Plus

About Udara Madusanka

    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...