Balam Acab – See Birds EP
Record Label: Tri Angle Records
Release Date: August 16th, 2010
I guess I want to apologize to the musicians behind the Drag (or witchouse or rapegaze or whatever!) genre. Because the fact that I’m reviewing an artist like Balam Acab, which is really just college student Alec Koone, means that the whole movement is dead. Gone - obliterated in an explosion of guy-who-wears-corduroy-pants-and-watches-Man Vs. Food. So, sorry?
But in the midst of me killing this hip-nasty kid's dreams of always being too hip, maybe there’s some sort of mainstream silver lining. (I guess the real irony here is that I am calling what we do on this silly website mainstream. Did you hear that new Taylor Swift song? Of course you did.) No, the good thing is that even though Mr. Koone is making these sort of aqueous, blissed-out, found sound collages, and doing so in a way that almost any Joe Schmo can enjoy, is quite amazing. It also helps that the See Birds EP is much less, well, terrifyingly creepy than other Drag aficionado outputs like those of Salem or even How To Dress Well (that European dude’s falsetto gets right under my skin!). Yes, Mr. Koone is perhaps making the closest thing Drag will know to commercial or poppy tunes.
That’s not to say he’s creating chorus-centric songs or, really, anything we’d call conventional pop music. But he is spending quite a bit of energy pushing songs forward with big bass undertones and high-pitched electronics. Despite his more indie-pop approach, there is still what you could describe as typical Drag atmospheres, or as I’m sure they’re referred to in weird club basements, soundspheriosities. On songs like “Big Boy” and "See Birds (sun)” there are foreseeable destinations; Koone is one of the most successful of his peers when it comes to creating clear emotional routes. Rather than raining synths and beats upon us to see which one gets us wet(!), he pares back his sound and leads us. And for such a young guy, he obviously knows where a wide range of people are wanting to be.
Even as I write this and claim that Balam Acab and See Birds will bring this weird junk to the tight-panted masses, I know that’s not true. And I don’t really care either way. This genre will either die because loathsome people like you sold a Get Up Kids record to buy Small Black on vinyl, or because you decided to keep 4 Minute Mile in case you one day have kids and they too hate high school (or whatever!). I’ll ride this genre’s log ride while it lasts, knowing all the while gallons of water will end up in my face. I guess it’s just personal perception as to whether that end is enjoyable or not.
Recommended If You Like: Small Black, How To Dress Well, oOoOO