It was back in March, just days before the Corona lockdown in Germany, when Sam Gendel‘s “Satin Doll” album came out. He totally destroyed a dozen or so standards and put them back together in a hilariously unique, fantastic way. Now he comes up with a space-age sounding follow-up. “DRM”, named after the Electro Harmonix DRM32 drum machine which is present throughout, has a completely unheard of sound of its own, with off-tune guitars, very weird and trippy vocals like on the final cut “Walts” and an altogether surreal soundscape which makes it probably not so easy to listen to in day-to-day circumstances.
I’m sitting on my porch in the garden, with the warm autumn sun and the chirping of the sparrows working as the ideal surrounding for this spacy trip. The strange brass and vocals and something like an electronic koto open the album with “3 Dollars”. The 14 tracks, with the longest clocking in at 3:15 minutes, seem to offer something new each time you give them a listen. There are some soul or R&B or jazz snippets on pieces like “FFLLYYDADA” which is an outrageously hypnotic tune with inexplicably wacky vocals. The drum machine, known for its vast amount of preset sounds like snaps and claps which were famous and pretty common on soul albums of the early 80s, or space drum sounds with fascinating effects, perfectly blend with those moody koto strings which you can hear on most of the tracks. It’s like the space age bachelor pad music of Esquivel turned upside down and carried forward to some eerie, plain country in the future and on its way stopping by at Herbie Hancock circa “Sextant”, like on “WAA”, one of the most profound tracks on offer, showing off its own meaning of soul and depth. The claps on the fierce “SOTD” are hard to resist.
Favorite tracks vary with each listen. Currently, the hip hop-entrenched “BBQ1” with its signature claps from the DRM32, seems to be the most entrancing. “Super Woke Dada” comes in very close with its r&b-ish beat and hippie vocals (but much too short), the afore-mentioned “FFLLYYDADA” is marvelously toxic with Gina bowing her head in exciting curiosity and “Walts”, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post, probably sums up best of what to expect here: the frenzy and genius of an artist who incorporates so many sounds and styles into his expressively inimitable work that it is sometimes hard to resist. Or hard to withstand.
There are videos to each track from this album and a limited edition LP version will be released in January. It’s a must-have.