By Mo Hafeez
I recently reviewed Archy Marhsall’s latest effort, A New Place 2 Drown – give it a read here
King Krule a.k.a. Zoo Kid a.k.a Edgar the Beatmaker a.k.a. DJ JD Sports and so on and so forth – Archy Marshall is no stranger to music, treading the fine line between multiple genres, from jazz, punk, and hip-hop, to more obscure post-punk and new-wave. Under the King Krule moniker, he’s paid more attention to the former three.
Anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook will know that the main album that I’ve been listening to over the past week or so is ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’, King Krule’s debut full-length album released in 2013 – in actuality, what I’ve been listening to is more of a compilation album, as the majority of the tracks on the record have been featured on past EPs.
Recording all tracks before he even reached the age of 20, what was surprising was the gravel and gruffness in his voice, a kind of baritone rife with emotion, leading to some fantastic moments of intensity on the album. His voice bites and stings, its detuned nature gripping to listen to.
Musically, the album is dripping with reverb, both on his voice and his guitar, and the soundscape in general feels barren , not overly crowded by unnecessary features. Spacious drumming and/or drum loops back him up, echoing around the room, giving an intimate feeling with its minimalistic nature.
New tracks on the album include ‘Baby Blue’, a dreary ballad featuring Marshall singing to a lover who does not have mutual feelings for him, and though it treads around cliche territory lyrically, his drawl somehow gives the words some deeper meaning, the way they’re awkwardly pushed out. Instrumentation is kept basic, smooth jazz-guitar picking the main focus, laid on top of an almost trap-inspired drum beat.
‘Easy Easy’ features even less instrumentation, with just Marshall and his guitar telling a story of a man chased by the police with no escape from them and indeed no escape from his daily life – again, it treads around cliche territory lyrically, but again it’s saved by vocal delivery that adds deeper more emotional meaning, especially on the choruses where he almost loses his pitching. It should be noted that live versions feature some excellent drumming, and an added guitar and bass guitar.
‘Out Getting Ribs’ was re-recorded for this album, released previously under his Zoo Kid moniker – however, in my opinion the song in fact feels much better in the original recording rather than the studio recording, the echoey screams of “Don’t break away// I’ll waste away” having a much greater impact than when they’re just sang, and the emotional “I’m sorry” which splits the song also adds to it. Again, just a reverb-laden guitar backs up Marshall in this song he wrote when he was just 15.
More fast-tempo songs on the album include ‘A Lizard State’, lyrically perhaps a weaker song but instrumentally exciting, horns providing excellent backing to Marshall’s band, and giving an extremely soulful and jazzy solo here and there too. On ‘Neptune Estate’ and ‘The Noose of Jah City’ you can hear his early forays into hip-hop and rapping, the delivery on some lines almost spoken-word esque.
If the single he released prior to the release of this album, ‘Rock Bottom’, had replaced one of the weaker songs on the album, he perhaps would have captivated for the entire 52 minute experience, and he perhaps would be experiencing greater recognition today – either way though, this album is a fantastic listen.