Alternating between tightly-wound and loosely fluid, the Los Angeles group Swahili Blonde tastefully mine the legacy of No Wave, Dub, Krautrock, and Post-Punk creating a sound that is immediately playful and fun but also futuristic; revealing it's complexity and new layers upon repeated listens. From the ashes of the rawkus now-defunct LA dub-punks WEAVE!, Swahili Blonde was formed in 2009 when former WEAVE! drummer and vocalist, Nicole Turley, started experimenting in her studio; creating unconventional dubby art-rock arrangements while giving a recorded voice to paralleled realities, vibrant visuals, and delightfully mismatched rhythms and patterns. Since then, Swahili Blonde has become a reputed dynamic and engaging live act, as an 8-piece band featuring members of The Like, Dante Vs Zombies, Corridor, WEAVE!, and DEVO.
Swahili Blonde's new album Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink is a trippier, more percussive counterpart to 2010's debut Man Meat which tapped into a scrappier punk spirit (a la Raincoats and The Slits). Their new record contains loads of surprises: Caribbean influences, sideways grooves, doo-wop vocal harmonies, and earworm-y instrumental interplay, while flourishing with the use of orchestral horns and strings. On Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink's opener "Etoile De Mer", it's clear that the band is exploring new directions with a track that takes the rhythmic pulse of their previous work and submerges it underwater. "Zelda Has It" takes things even deeper marrying angular funk with spooky atmospheres. Things emerge from the visceral underwater seascape on their soaring cover of A-Ha's "Scoundrel Days" before launching into "Purple Ink" suggesting a Beefheart-ian approach to deconstructing the 99 Records catalog, with its stop-starts, spiraling guitar melodies, and polyrhythmic sense of timing. The album closes out with the driving synth dub instrumental "Science Is Magick" and the spaced out "The Golden Corale" where strings sweep over galloping percussion.
Accented by guest performances throughout the album from Laena Geronimo (violin), Brad Caulkins (sax), and John Frusciante (guitar), Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink consistently keeps the listener on their toes with John Cale-esque violin shrieks, shimmering guitars, sitar, even Tijuana Brass horns. While unpredictable, Turley's realized vision is unified by its homage to Swahili Blonde's dub/punk/funk influences filtered thru today's anything-goes post-global lens, and the result is a fascinating album from one of the most interesting bands to emerge from Southern California in recent memory.
Swahili Blonde live is...
Arianna Basco & Heather Cvar >>> backing vocals
Laena Geronimo >>> violin, bass
Alan Myers >>> drums
Michael Quinn >>> guitar
Nicole Turley >>> keyboards, omnichord, vocals
Dante White-Aliano >>> bass, guitar
Psycho Tropical Ballet Pink is currently available through Neurotic Yell Records as a digital album, on CD, and limited edition 12" blue vinyl + download with bonus tracks.
released November 15, 2011
Arianna Basco - backing vocals (Etoile De Mer)
Heather Cvar - backing vocals (Etoile De Mer)
Brad Caulkins - saxophone
John Frusciante - guitar
Laena Geronimo - violin
Nicole Turley - live drums, drum machine, handsonic, bass, sitar, mini-moog, dx-7, omnichord, vocals
All songs written, recorded, mixed, produced by Nicole Turley
Except Scoundrel Days - written by Ah-Ha
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Album Art by Nicole Turley
all rights reserved