What would have been album reviews featured in the 2020 magazine, the #ThrowbackThursday series hopes to provide listeners a friendly reminder of some keynote releases that really stood out to NEPAudio Staff.
written by Jeffrey Glenn
In Songs About Worms, a thorough combination of the novel and the vintage creates an endlessly compelling sonic palette that is at once unique and familiar. On this self-released EP, Trap Rabbit evokes the slinky, behind-the-beat funk of producers like Madlib, Black Milk, and J Dilla as well as the gauzy, sample-rich ambient dub of Boards of Canada and the crisp sheen of a Vulfpeck record. These touchpoints aside, the duo set themselves apart by relying on live performance rather than breaks, samples, and programming to give life to their sound.
Drummer Arjun Dube keeps a relentless pocket and convincingly replicates the breakbeat aesthetic while inflecting it with jazz gestures, often displacing the metrical emphasis to create a sense of warped dislocation that the band negotiates confidently.
Keyboardist Logan Roth brings a variety of vintage-sounding keys and synth tones to the arrangements, recalling familiar sounds of past favorites while shaping them in new ways to imbue a personal character.
The drums are always overdriven, lending them a gritty, in-your-face crack that provides a weighty counterweight to the airy harmonies. Everything is wrapped in a haze of warm, tubey, tapey distortion, further reinforcing the “sampled vinyl” aesthetic that gives this EP its amorphous, shifting, fresh character.
Somewhat misleadingly, Songs About Worms features no actual singing. What we do find is a collection of five miniatures bursting at the seams (or segments) with ideas. The duo manipulates rhythm and metrical emphasis throughout the record while maintaining an insistent groove. This concern manifests most notably in “Segmented,” where the “A” section alternates measures of 3/4 and 7/8, and the “B” section changes to a heavily swung feel and remains in 7/8 but alternates groupings of 2+2+3 and 3+2+2. This is all done with an un-self-conscious fluidity that is transparent to the general listener but thrilling to the music theory nerd, while reinforcing the message of the music. Roth’s jazzy harmonies with their symmetrical whole tone sonorities are adventurous but intelligible.
It is these dichotomies – the familiar vs. the novel, the challenging vs. the accessible – that defines this record and that Trap Rabbit negotiate so effectively. Songs About Worms is an unqualified success that should be appreciated by any open-minded audience.