King Krule grabs you by the throat, begging you to see he’s real on ‘The OOZ’
Archy Marshall couldn’t care less about what you think of him.
Of course, I don’t know this for sure, but his body of work seems to suggest that this is the truth. I mean, he recently turned down the opportunity to work with Kanye West, saying he “couldn’t be bothered.”
Marshall’s who-cares ethos extends to virtually every layer of his sound. What genre could you call him? “Who cares?,” comes the answer. Why does Marshall sometimes release music under his real name, while other times choosing to go by King Krule, as he does here on his newest record, “The OOZ”?
Who cares? It’s amazing.
“The OOZ” is Marshall’s third full-length release, but his second under the King Krule name. It has an interesting dichotomy about it. On the one hand, it’s really easy to figure out where Marshall is drawing his influences from, to the point that one can understand that the record could not exist without what came before it.
On the other hand, though, he draws from such truly far-flung influences that it becomes obvious that “The OOZ” could only be the product of a really singular individual, one who has his hands in so many different sounds that he ends up with a new one.
Sometimes, Marshall seems obsessed with capturing the eerie, jazzy sound that Radiohead was pursuing on their 2001 album, “Amnesiac.”
At other points, he channels a sort of minimalistic hip-hop that seems plucked from “Madvillainy,” the collaborative album between rapper MF DOOM and producer Madlib.
And then, occasionally, Marshall delves deep into the horror-tinged blues synonymous with acts like Howlin’ Wolf and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.
I’ll be the first to admit that it might seem strange to have all of these sounds on one record, but somehow Marshall does it. And not only does it, he does it in such a way that makes it feel as though the album wasn’t even planned; instead, it feels like a spontaneous natural event.
My favorite thing about “The OOZ” is the way the songs are produced. On each track, Marshall finds a way to emphasize the rawness of his music. Many tracks leave crackles and pops on his vocals, while others use more explicit sound art. Early album track “Sublunary” fades into forest sounds, with the screams of what sounds like a fox pierce the peacefulness. Later, on “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver),” the track ends with rain pouring down, coupled with, somewhere in the background, the theme to “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” of all things.
The effects are jarring, but they’re not dissimilar to the famous cough that starts Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” It reminds you of the realness of the artist. Marshall will not just be someone in your headphones; he wants you to know that he’s real.
Marshall’s desire to be perceived as real comes through both in the lyrics and through his own vocals. Marshall has a deep, gritty voice, perhaps making him best understood as the devil to Thom Yorke’s angel. There’s something about his combination of crooning and yelping (much like the fox on “Sublunary”) that somehow feels not of this world, somehow wrong, but it grabs you by the collar and won’t let you go, begging to be understood.
Marshall seems to have a fairly good handle on the way his voice’s raw, animal intensity can make him come across, especially in late album cut “Half Man Half Shark.” The track is one of the more “Howlin’ Wolf” moments on the record, the bulk of which is taken up by Marshall chanting uproariously, “Half man with the body of a shark/ don’t try to hide it.”
But things take a more somber note toward the end of the song, with Marshall calming down, realizing that his unique nature sets him drastically apart from everyone else. “Well, I suppose I’ll forever be the only one who knows,” he says. “I’ll forever be alone.”
Marshall’s attempts at coming to terms with his status as an individual is, in many ways, what “The OOZ” is about. Marshall tells us of varying degrees of loneliness, ranging from lost romantic love to loss of the love of “all of the gods.”
In the album’s second track, “The Locomotive,” Marshall aches, saying “I wish I was people.” Sometimes, I think because of his status as a totally unique individual, he might be more “people” than the rest of us.
But either way, he’s dragged us all into the woods with him to look at ourselves with him.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan.
Album: ‘The OOZ’
Artist: King Krule (Archy Marshall)
Label: True Panther Sounds, XL
Best Tracks: ‘Czech One,’ ‘Vidual,’ ‘The Locomotive’