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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/03/2013

Archie Pelago Sly Gazabo EP

Midway through the titanic title track on Archie Pelago's new EP, two tiny melodic fragments from the preceding two tracks come racing through the footwork-indebted sprawl, only to get torn asunder and absorbed into the song's gravitational pull. At 15-plus minutes, Sly Gazabo's namesake cut throws an almost excessive amount of ideas at the listener and very rarely repeats itself, making the EP a paramount listen in more ways than one. For starters, it's the inaugural record on the Bubblin' Up three-piece's newly launched Archie Pelago Music imprint, and secondly, it's the Brooklyn group's most musically accomplished, experimental work to date.

"In the Room," with its earworming saxophone/violin interplay and persistent groove, is one of the finest tunes the outfit has yet completed. Like the rest of the EP, the track is stuffed to the gills with tiny flourishes of sound—from the bizarre, happy-go-lucky breakdown nestled in its core, to the stand-alone notes and melodies delivered by an array of instruments—but is kept refreshingly buoyant thanks to its exceptional hook and persistent groove. If "In the Room" is the catchy centerpiece around which the rest of Sly Gazabo revolves, flickering opener "Avocado Roller" kicks things off in proper fashion. Coming to life little by little with a clanging house skeleton, the production eventually moves into a tougher, bass-driven groove supported by an ascending synthline and the leisurely shuffle of interplaying vocals and strings.

Indeed, the front half of Archie Pelago's record is decidedly more house-inspired than the freakouts which comprise the back half. Closing track "Nancy's Library" owes quite a bit to juke, albeit disarmingly so, as it leans on mellow flutes and a gentle, well-orchestrated string section. The trio somehow makes the Chicago-bred genre sound soft without eschewing its inherent bite. "Nancy's Library" is too relaxed to be proper footwork, but the same cannot be said for the EP's title track.

Longer than the rest of the record's tracks combined, "Sly Gazabo" is difficult to make sense of at first. It's musically chaotic, erratically throwing whatever the group has around its studio into a 160-bpm burn and wringing some harsh, thudding chords out of the mess. The madness continues past four minutes, but things gradually ease up as gentler, reverb-soaked chords transform the tune into something else altogether. It's fiercely experimental, invigorating, and despite its length, never runs out of steam or ceases to be interesting—much like Sly Gazabo as a whole.

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