Buffalo Black & Lord Byron
Medicine Man Revival, Jon Bap, TREE.
Thu, June 29, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 12:00 am)Trees
This event is all ageshttps://www.treesdallas.com/event/1486329/
While it’s difficult to find a box that he fits into neatly, Bap is perhaps best described as an experimental soul artist. His background is in many ways traditional: He was raised in a musical family, first found his voice in the church choir, and clearly draws a lot of inspiration from classic funk, soul and R&B. The forms that his songs take, however, push beyond the commonly understood bounds of those genres. His aesthetic as a recording artist is one of disorderly virtuosity, a composer who piles up home-recorded sounds in unexpected and sometimes stunning ways. In this regard he has more in common with, say, the Dirty Projectors than D’Angelo, though he’s clearly indebted to both.
Nowhere is Bap’s outsider stance more clear than in his approach to percussion. The drums on Jon Bap songs clash and clatter, fighting for control of the tempo and the listener’s ear. He allows beats to collide at odd angles, to play counter-rhythms, to create an air of barely-contained chaos. On What Now? Bap has taken this sensibility a step further by fully removing the drummer from the songwriting process. Nearly all of the drum tracks on What Now? were sampled from hours of jazz drummer Mike Mitchell’s improvisations, which Bap recorded in preparation for the album and then sequenced to create these tracks. On these songs, Mitchell’s playing evokes everything from Questlove’s off-kilter kit work on Voodoo to Zach Hill’s manic fills to the inhuman breakbeats of IDM artists like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.
Despite the rhythmic discord, Bap’s best songs still manage to feel loose, warm and immediate. “Gotta Be Your Lover” sounds like the warped memory of a Prince song with a wind-up toy standing in for a drummer. “Don’t Run Into the Dark So Quick” is a devastating ballad, its wobbly, detuned guitar conjuring a dusty blues acetate, as Bap pleads with a wayward lover. And “Let It Happen,” the beautifully off-balance, Jeff Buckley-esque title track from Bap’s debut EP, gets a welcome reprise here, closing the album with one of Bap’s strongest vocal performances to date.
Jon Bap is a promising new voice, and the inventiveness and confidence he displays here is commendable, but he might benefit from an editor. What Now? has more than its fair share of interludes, field recordings and spoken-word bits, but its primary shortcoming is that there are simply not enough songs, especially by way of comparison to his more focused debut EP. Similarly, not every sonic experiment here clicks; songs like “Intuition” border on cacophonous in parts, when the songwriting begins to bow under the weight of too many tempos and layers. Still, it’s not difficult to see how this sort of willful messiness might support Bap’s overall aim, to surprise and unsettle the listener but also, to see that her patience is rewarded.
2709 Elm Street
Dallas, TX, 75226