Sunday, 14 August 2016

Album: Corbu - Crayon Soul

Corbu Crayon Soul

Corbu - Neon Hallway

Info: On the verge of heading off on tour with Bloc Party, New York duo Corbu released their debut album, Crayon Soul, on Big Picnic Records only last week. The Brooklyn based pair had the record produced by David Fridman (The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala) and being heavily influenced in art, also designed the artwork and illustrations for the album.

Crayon Soul's opening track, 'Sirens', slowly heralds the rest of the album in, an ambient and distorted wall of fuzz and tannoy announcements subconsciously beckon the listener forward and into their space, chaotic but calm all at once. MY own introduction to Corbu came via second track, 'Polygon Forest' (below), and it was a pretty nice 'wow!' moment, in my notes I had immediately written, 'M83 meets Fleetwood Mac....', it's a perfectly rhythmic electro psych-folk tune that is energising and upbeat.

Corbu - Polygon Forest

One of the more enduring aspects of the album after a couple of listens is how mood-driven it is, there's a laid-back focus on escapism and the voyage from being withdrawn from the world to being invigorated by the electro-beat energy, encapsulated perhaps best on 'Neon Hallway' (top video). The tripped out experience reaches new heights on fifth track 'Branches', over six minutes of analog candy, this is where Corbu entirely stand alone, this is their sound, no comparisons to others are necessary. 

On 'Better Better Off' the pair head off into indie slacker territory, like something from Primal Scream's 1994 Give Out But Don't Give Up album or The Verve's Urban Hymns, it's pretty delicious and as it progresses it straddles on the periphery of 80's pop. Just as easily as they can create complex soundscapes and ideas, Corbu can flick back to straight-forward electro-pop with ease, on 'Battles' they've given us a fulsome contemporary slice of dream pop, and a track that you feel is primed for a remix in worthy hands.

Another highlight comes on 'Watchmaker', the shuddering bass intro is arresting, there's a slightly dark and tribal feel courtesy of the percussion and vocal effects only add to that sense. This is a meticulously constructed track that at first glance seems simple, but up close the arrangements and timings become more and more diverse and off-kilter. 

Corbu - We Are Sound

Right up to the end Crayon Soul refuses to run out of steam or surprises, 'We Are Sound' (above) is a light piece of indie-pop which musically recalls Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, before heading suddenly off on a completely different tangent with a minute to go, and like everything we've heard so far, it works. To compliment the abrasive sound of its opener, the album closes with the soft 'Dark Wave', letting us down gently, and bringing me to reflect on a quote from Corbu about their music and ambition; 

"Dreams are really important to me. I think the world you experience when you’re dreaming is physically real, in some way. I don’t understand it at all, but I’ve had enough intense experiences to justify that belief. For me, it’s a sort of parallel reality to our normal, waking consciousness – one where time doesn’t exist and dead relatives can hang out with you. Whenever I’m making art or music, I feel like I’m trying to reach over into that place and bring some of it back into this one."
Corbu Crayon Soul

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