Know Your Product
New edge-riding Baltimore club, and introducing cat folk
Published: October 13, 2010
While neither necessarily ignored nor neglected, “wild space” is an area in a city that has been skipped by urbanity. Not a park or public garden or anything intentional—more space that might be considered scraps off the city’s cutting board. They exist. A scrubby green mound in a railroad wye; the oily, trashed wetlands behind the Greyhound station; the patch of trees and bushes behind the Copy Cat building alongside the laid-over MARC trains. This is wild space as defined in Wildspace’s silkscreened liner notes, and that scant square-footage behind the Copy Cat is the wild space where Neil Sanzgiri conceived these eight songs of grainy, atmospheric folk.
It’s that tension between the city’s concrete rush and the resisting of it that seems, then, to be Wildspace’s central concern. He sings on the opener, “from the lights of the city/ bring a lantern off to your room,” as if you could just shut the door on not only the noise, but time and place. The music itself is one big mood, a sonic reaching toward that particular state of mind you might find with head perfectly clear. Sanzgiri’s reedy, languid vocals and an easy, slack guitar strum are the minimal guts of it, and the other sounds and instruments join in not so much as flourishes, but accents. Andy Abelow’s adroit quick-plucked banjo gives color just when things start to get same-y; a fluttering flute gives motion in the right places; even a string part and background chorus don’t add too much bustle to Soft Cat’s escapist sound space.
For more information visit myspace.com/softcatsoftcat
A Cat Called Cricket
When Leaves Fall
A Cat Called Cricket delivers a mere two (albeit long) songs on its Beechfields debut, but makes them count. Cricket’s a big band, six players strong with half of those on strings, and it hadn’t previously had the luxury of sounding all that big on record, being limited in sonic scale by bedroom recording (which, while quite cool nowadays, is still bedroom recording). The chamber-folk ensemble enlisted Mobtown Studios for recording When Leaves Fall, and it makes all the difference. A cello is one thing, but a rich-sounding cello with real gravity is like switching from decaf to regular. Apply that to a whole band.
Though A Cat Called Cricket doesn’t misuse that weight, there’s more pop in here than the postrock thick strings might suggest, or start to suggest. Which isn’t to say Leaves isn’t totally a sad-bastard record: “Can we go back a year or two/ before I ever hurt you,” sings Alex Champagne on “Atlas,” before dropping a rather unfortunate, “Never been so lost, never felt so found.” Lyrics can tend toward that sort of thing. The compositions are where the better money is: the swirling strings trading shots with an angsty oompa stomp as that track winds down, or the sly, pattering snare drum that surfaces at the end of “When Leaves Fall,” a disorienting but brief little trick just as the song starts to drag. In the end, Leaves is a bit too quick of a listen—it’s easy to imagine the band shining more brightly stretched out, and perhaps pushing against its genre with more vigor.
A Cat called Cricket plays 2640 Space on Oct. 17. For more information visit acatcalledcricket.com.
Streets of Baltimore Ver. 2.0
First off, Streets of Baltimore Ver. 2.0 is a whole lot of very usual suspects: KW Griff, Rod Lee, DJ Booman, and the names we all know now as the Baltimore club canon (not all of it by any means). Dig a track from party scene young-gun Uncle Jesse, one off-the-wall DJ Pierre track that’s like a really long and weird break drafted into being a song-song (and it works), and not even a minute from fresh-on-the-circuit DJ Tigga. But, otherwise, Say Wut’s not really on an exploratory mission. That said, his mix makes a decent case that it doesn’t need to be, obligatory “I’m the Ish” remix aside.
It’s Say Wut’s own tracks that really shine here. His “Powers” is already a minor hit, plying the line between classic Say Wut anthem and new-school club weirdness via a bit of grimy synth fuckery and a pretty choice vocal sample that’s more ethereal than you might expect from “Mr. Go.” It’s that odd kind of club progression that can sound fantastically weird in the context of the usual bangers but, at the same time, is still obviously made for a real-life Baltimore dancefloor mix. “Funky Worm Break” is more classic Say Wut, a big goofy thing of synthesized tuba and a beat that’s indeed more funky—and even live-ish—than the club norm. Which, all told, is at the heart of what puts Say Wut at the top of the club heap: the ability to drop a made-for-Downtown Locker Room mix that still ably and earnestly pushes the genre.
For more information visit horsemenent.net.
> Email Michael Byrne