Though Rafter‘s most recent full-length, Sex Death Cassette, was an album largely made up of fragile bedroom-pop, some of his works have hinted at a penchant for booty-shaking. Whether the herky-jerky beat and skonking sax of “Zzzpenchant”, the strut-inducing talkbox-pop of Stereogum exclusive “Fruit”, or the equally vocoded compilation track “Long Ago a Rodent as Big as a Bull Lurked in South America”, at times it’s felt like Rafter Roberts was harboring a secret desire to unleash the funk. So, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that his upcoming EP does just that.
Citing the likes of Tom Zé, Prince, Clipse, Zapp & Roger, Mr. Fingers, and D’Angelo as influences, Sweaty Magic isn’t your typical dance record. Keeping in line with previous releases it’s distinctly lo-fi and at times just plain weird, but here Rafter also balances songs that blend dance elements and his more familiar pop tendencies with others that are purposely disposable… think pre-programmed keyboard beats, synthesized orchestra hits, unhealthy amounts of dissonance, and layers of near-throwaway melodies. Just put on “Magic”, a noisy Casio-funk booty-bass jam that seems fit for some kind of trashy Eastern European dance club organized by an NYC diaspora, and the nature of this project will become very apparent. Or if that’s too much for you, use “Juicy” (a more logical extension of his past works) to ease yourself in. This juxtaposition of styles may yield a bit of a disjointed listen, but keep in mind that this EP is compiled of tracks from his collaborative “Art Project-a-Day” challenge (with photographer/fiancé Lizeth Santos), not to mention that as a pacing element it feeds quite nicely into the intentionally-weird qualities of the songcraft.
And speaking of collaboration, Asthmatic Kitty just recently announced an opportunity for any of you who have visual media skills to potentially join forces with Rafter by participating in a music video contest using one of three tracks (“Sweat”, “Juicy”, or “Salt”) from Sweaty Magic. The contest’s judging panel includes Dan Deacon, The Liars, the people behind Yo! Gabba Gabba, Adrian Grenier (!?), and others. Fabulous prizes are at stake. Head over to the press release for the full details.
Sweaty Magic comes out September 9th and is available for pre-order on the Asthmatic Kitty Records website.
Download: Rafter – Magic
Download: Rafter – Juicy
Download: Rafter – Long Ago a Rodent as Big as a Bull Lurked in South America
From The Peppermill’s 52 Weeks project, which is available for free at their website.
Listening to this EP has reminded me to revisit a surprisingly similar (and unfortunately far-less realized) novelty-dance project from a couple friends of mine, Fever Sleeves lead singer/bassist/sometimes guitarist/moogist Tony Gidlund and Orange Terror Field everyman Jake Gus. They were known simply as Freak Police. As I understood it, Jake laid down some music up in San Francisco and sent it via internets to Tony in San Diego where he laid down the vocals. Semi-active a few years ago, they only had a couple demos… one was based on Katamari Damacy, the other sampled Ted Leo and was centered around the ass in your pants. [Addendum: Apparently Tony was solely responsible for the execution of both of these tracks, but Jake provided a “Day is Done”-sampling beat (!!) that was never completed.]
Download: Freak Police – Fire Alarm
Download: Freak Police – Hearts of Ass