Monday, January 21, 2008

Monkey's First Post / Leyode review

The Typing Monkey begins this project by looking back to some things from 2007 that we feel deserve attention. Yes, most publications have already done year-end "Best of" lists but never mind that.
These first few entries aren't any kind of meaningless inventory of critical self-touching, but rather an attempt to remember some things from the past year that we wanted to talk about but didn't.

And away we go.


Fascinating Tininess
(Eastern Developments)
Not including the "bonus beats" track, this disc clocks in at nine songs in just over 30 minutes. More musicians are rediscovering the value of brevity in terms of album length, and to those musicians The Typing Monkey says: Don't think we haven't noticed.

Yusuke Hama (samples and beats) and Laurel Wells (singing) -- the primary duo comprising Leyode -- make beautifully psychedelic hip-hop. Hama's muffled beats shuffle in the background, a canny recreation of Ringo Starr's soft attack during the twilight of The Beatles' career.

The tracks constantly collapse and splinter apart and, as with "Dominique", sometimes stop altogether as if the music got distracted and left a conversational opening for a new idea to cut in. Wells' voice frequently becomes another instrument in Hama's hands. Though there are glimpses of intelligible lyrics, she's just as effective delivering melodic sighs and double-tracked "oohs" and "ahs."

Instrumentally, Hama favors wheezy keyboards and effective guest appearances from a wobbly ascending trumpet ("Irene"), a cello that announces the only significant drum break ("Clementine"), and a few guitar plucks here and there. Indentifying which parts are sampled and which are not is difficult, and that's a plus.

Fascinating Tininess stumbles once with "Hassami + Savath y Savalas." A collaboration with Scott Herren (aka Prefuse 73/Savath & Savalas and the cofounder of the Eastern Developments label), it's the most traditional "song" here but sounds unremarkable in contrast to the hazy shine of the rest. And the previously mentioned bonus beats, officially titled "Eilene (Leb-Leze Bonus Beats)" feels tacked on because it probably was.

Otherwise, Leyode plies the listener with woozy confections as oddly enticing as pillow mints.

Reference materials: Leyode will appeal to fans of Daedalus and Koushik