Review: South-South Million
Stream first two tracks of Wind Hand Caught In The Door:
Swing your door to shut out pedestrian pop, watered-down indie and shallow Top 40… but be sure to allow the winds of a more provocative sonic jigsaw puzzle to catch its ethereal hand at the knob’s teeth. Let it’s bewitching, shifting sounds seep in…
Detroit-based experimental recording artists Daniel Clark and Trevor Naud (best known as the eerily-perfectly-matched harmonized lead vocalists of art-pop quartet Zoos of Berlin), have assembled an illusory montage of dream-like song-chunks, webbed together across silky timbres and waving synthesizers, through swept-together samples, taped loops and echo-fuzzed melodies, forming their first proper full-length under the South South Million moniker.
Already bearing knacks for breathily cooed vocals, penchants for foggy tones and mesmeric soundscapes and lilting preferably towards detached, drifty rhythms, the pair’s musing and melodic blends make the album’s title an apt denotation of the stargazing sensibility affected. Here be soothingly cacophonous lullabies, with deliciously vibrant song titles like: “Silver Letters Written on a Page from the Book of Skies…”
It’s dazzling but, in a way- disturbing, a good sort of disturbing, though – in the way you wake up from intriguing dreams, ones furled by waving foliage, sped-up cloud cover, alien characters and watery settings, leaving you on a cushy bed all beguiled, wondering just what the hell it all meant.
This would be dream-pop, maybe…like a sort of syrupy shoegaze-laden Pastels-esque trip if it weren’t for the spacey post-bop jazz samples, the saucy saxophone swirls or the hip-hop beats. We soar this way and that way, through songs that bloom in to each other, and then re-bloom again, hyper-impressionistic, capricious and contemplative.
Yeah, it’s disturbing in a way – mostly since it has a hook, a steady strutting beat, a pleasingly toned surf-guitar and vocals like the sweet searing glow of a sunset’s hazy flame, it gets you into the easy chair of baroque-pop comfort, and then starts letting the haunting sounds of the droning wind seep in with subtlety.
It’s labyrinthine, sort of, but not exactly disorienting – it spills over you much more agreeably, much like a waking dream, a meditation, the musically-affected sense that you’re in six places at once: sitting down to listen to an old dusty funk ’45 on vinyl in your basement, then bleeding into an alarm clock’s wail and the blearing stab of morning sunlight until suddenly you’re on the streets of New York, you’re in a Museum, you’re feeling the marble, you’re in a dance club, you blink into the lights and feel the beat in your chest, the clattery rhythm at your hips, no, wait, no, now you’re in your crib under a spinning mobile of cartoon characters, or you’re down on the beach, or rolling your skull through the rounding grooves of a droning gong…
It’s psychedelic, but in a Sunday Afternoon-ish sort of way.
It lulls you like wind-chimes but it seems to chatter at you, too, to keep you in the here and now, stoking your synapses like a nicely dense rumination on philosophy, or astrophysics, or the mere potential for enlightenment, or mind-expansion…through the pure delight of closing your eyes while wearing headphones. Listening.
Muted, shuffling funk trips, hip-hop tinged art-pop, bleeding slowly into each other like fine hues on canvas.
There are Dark Side Of The Moon-ish moments and “Day In The Life”-ish moments. Most of all, there are moments. Or, Movements. But it’s too simplifying to call it a montage album; no, it’s something distinct from what, say, the Books did and maybe closer to what the Avalanches did, but then, maybe not…
Maybe you’re finding it while it’s finding itself and that’s what’s so delightfully disturbing about it.
Artwork: Trevor Naud
Find more works from this “new” experimental Detroit duo here … I say “new,” but this full length album’s been in the works for 9 years. Though, now that it’s out, a pressure seems to be off, floodgates might be open…and we’ll likely see more coming sooner/faster, like, say, an EP.