- Audio CD (18 April 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: 4AD
- ASIN: B004LPNB74
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,017 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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W H O K I L L CD
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New England-born and Oakland-based artist Merrill Garbus enjoys making music on her own. Well, almost. Shunning old-school studio sessions, she embraces her Californian bedroom's hard drive splicing tools. At least this is the public face she chooses to display as tUnE-yArDs. Garbus has a penchant for painting said face with bright tribal-style streaks, to match the urban-hollering exultation of her somewhat robust singing style. Her live performance, due to her very physical presence, tends to be almost traditional-entertainer, but her recorded oeuvre is able to take full advantage of tumbling digital pile-up technology.
This second tUnE-yArDs album advances the concept of rampant collision, hiking the extremities up to a further level. Lo-fi meets hi-fi, as big drum thunder under-booms sometime dictaphone-style scratchiness in the vocal department. There's a pronounced field-recording intention, recalling Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica period, as well as the ethnic vocal capturings of New York composer Meredith Monk. It's also possible that Garbus has simply experienced these methods at source, whether through the Baka pygmies, the far-northern Sami people or the indigenous Americans of her own land. Whichever way, she is becoming expert at polyphonic hocketing, either through these tribal folks or maybe just via The Slits. Her vocals ring around the ears, scampering across the stereo field like steel-toe-capped pixies. This is an album that's best aired on headphones, at critical volume.
Garbus sets up a jagged jacking from one section to another, this minimalist brutality paradoxically ripe with rich arrangements, mashing up punk guitar riffs, rickety industrial percussion and saxophone belches. Gangsta has a great bass hook, Powa comes close (but not too close) to a conventional rock song, and Riotriot rams together flood organ, bangin' drums and spiked guitar, crashing into a sudden vocal a cappella. A rushing gust of a chorus invests Bizness with a mixture of prettiness and desperate atonality, as Garbus belts "don't take my life away" at incessant high speed. She even tackles a lullaby (of sorts) with Wooly Wolly Gong. It's like we'd imagine music made by a dangerously bright child, perfectly in touch with its razor-sharp instincts. Or it's a car-crash in the midst of a tropical rain forest. --Martin Longley
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Top Customer Reviews
an extraordinary debut. It blew me quite away just a bit!
It was so wonderfully rough and ready; stitched together
from left-over bits of macrame, wood-shavings and cardboard.
The re-formed detritus of a wild and original imagination, it
was going to be a very hard act to follow and Ms Garbus both
sort-of has and sort-of hasn't with her new release 'Whokill'.
The fundemental trace-elements of her muse are largely intact.
My reservations are less about what's missing than about that
which has been added. It's got a bigger, fatter sound (a bit
more money in her kitbag this time round probably helped) but
some of the fragile, ragged, fallible, eccentricity is missing.
The addition of a rumbling and abrasive bass guitar (played
by Nate Brenner) and a sound engineer (Eli Crews) has taken
Ms Garber off the front porch and into the studio. It's a risky
move. The listening world needs some magically small things too.
There are ten tracks in the collection. Best among them would
have to include : 'Es-so', a gloriously brash, jazz-tainted
invention full of jangling guitar and twitchy percussion; 'Powa',
a rather lovely song with enough open spaces to allow the voice
to bloom and shine; 'Bizness', a curiously affecting piece of
insect music (the busy hive of Ms Garber's imagination has
rarely sounded busier!) with a really uplifting vocal chant;
'You Yes You', too is bursting with sunny flamboyant energy.
It is to 'Wooly Wooly Gong', however, to which we must turn to
experience the true beating heart and soul of the project.Read more ›
Tribal drums, looped vocal instrumentation and distorted lead vocals on my country are all familiar and it's not until a huge keyboard stab comes halfway through that you realise what a bit of support can do giving the track an invigorating injection. Horns, group vocals, cowbells and marimba are all added to the mix in a furious finish that ends with the isolated line 'the worst thing about living a lie is just wondering when they'll find out.' that presumably referring to the lie of the American dream, which Garbus is keen to deconstruct, for after all 'we cannot all have it.' The first appearance of heavier guitars comes on es-so along with a stand up bass and Rhodes piano to help create a funky, almost jazzy sound which will be repeated on other tracks. But it finishes with an alarm sound that leads into one of the albums more adventurous tracks, gangsta, which opens with the challenge,'What's a boy to do if he'll never be a gangsta?Read more ›
Cleaning up the majority of the voice digitalisation that characterised that debut, as well as its bedroom-budget recording, Garbus has a sleeker beast on her hands with W H O K I L L, but happily it's not one untrue to her cut-and-paste ethics.
At a glance, the uninitiated might mistake Garbus's eccentrics for wilful destruction of sound, optimistic throwing of everything within arm's reach with the hope that something sticks. Yet, there's a deft majesty at play that bleeds throughout the record, cleverly gluing its disparate elements together.
Amidst squelchy, foreign rhythms and demented sax arpeggios, determined drum pulses provide the foundation to the infectious opener "My Country". Garbus, in turn, here and elsewhere, is way out of her shell ranging from the spoken word through general shrieking and impossible notes. As a result, W H O K I L L quickly contorts itself into a party record for the mentally questionable.
Proof, if required, comes courtesy of "Gangsta" - a track that, at least during its opening bars, recalls the outsider awesomeness that Beck used to knock out for fun. Amongst other things, Garbus takes the opportunity during its running time to vocally mimic the siren that periodically interjects during her bubbly beats.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A truly fantastic discovery, a great musician, a journey in uncharted sonic territories. Listen to this music to re-set your ears and your heart.Published 12 months ago by Giuliano Gasparini
This album is fantastic, feels very raw and rootsy. Check out Tune-Yards little desk live performance on youtube. So much better than the over commercialised junk thats out there.Published on 4 Jan. 2014 by miss s k street
Saw her performing at lattitude last year and fell in love. albums amazing but still doesn't do the real thing justice. xPublished on 9 April 2013 by samipage
Difficult second album my arse! As if Bird-Brains was not enough of a wonderful, original, musical explosion, the follow up is even better. Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2013 by Tony T