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Album Review: Archy Marshall ‘A New Place 2 Drown’

 

Musician Archy Marshall, who is also part of King Krule and was previously known as Zoo Kid back in 2010 has released an album this month – this is also part of a project in collaboration with his brother Jack.

A New Place 2 Drown is far from what we’re already acquainted with regarding King Krule’s musical repertoire.  There’s a renewed air of acceptance in the album amongst the angst that has been a recurring theme in his music throughout the years. ‘Ammi Ammi’ is a perfect example of such acceptance; the qualms, aches and pains of life (or love) are taken on with “we just smoke and let days go by”, which is echoed through the effortless strumming, calm beats and the conversational tone that encompasses the track. This dialogue is maintained throughout the album and contrasts to the droning vocals that were present King Krule albums such as 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. Marshall conveys his echoing lyrics almost as if he is stood in a dingy toilet facing his own reflection in a mirror, which likens it to times when you’re trying to come to terms with how much you’ve had to drink (we’ve all been there) or just attempting to ground yourself; the album can be seen as a self-reflective piece or a monologue.

The majority of the tracks in A New Place 2 Drown start off with something of a dodgy ’80s VHS horror film vibe, which Marshall utilises to create foundations for his beats; in ‘Eye Drift’, the low-definition static provides a melodic backdrop to the track and creates a cryptic atmosphere. The cryptic zeitgeist is pretty fluid throughout the album and allows Marshall to convey different moods from collectedness to full-frontal despair; the latter is expressed through Marshall’s aching vocals in ‘Thames Water’ as he demonstrates the suffocation of “evil” inner-city life. Angst and despair-ridden sentiments have made appearances before in tracks like Out Getting Ribs, however the kind being showcased in this track is of a very different nature. It is more of a middle finger to institutions and towards society; take the example of high rents in London forcing young people to live to work, as gentrification and increased foreign investment drive out communities that are no longer able to afford the cost of living. I’d be lying if I claimed that, despite the truth in the societal criticisms conveyed through these lyrics, some tracks are criticism-free themselves; there’s a lot to be said about sentiments of emasculation in “Sex With Nobody” and ‘Swell’.

A New Place 2 Drown is less of a repackaging of Marshall’s artistry, and more of a sensory experience that is both exploratory and experimental. Tracks here involve a concoction of dance, hip hop and jazz, whilst emphasising synths and simple beats that allow him to push new sounds to the fore and temporarily subordinate the good old electric guitar. Again, ‘Thames Water’ demonstrates this experimentalism excellently by switching up the tempo half-way through the track and introducing a kind of ethereal and upbeat tone. Here, acceptance of the circumstances once again brings the man in the mirror back down to Earth as he “calls his boys for a chill” and learns from retrospect that “it used to be rainy days”; perhaps we can all learn from the nonchalant attitude and the just-go-with-it agenda that is being pushed in this album.

A New Place To Drown is unapologetic, raw and constantly blurs the lines between organised beats and experimentation. Marshall has never been coherent with his artistry, and with a scant social media presence he is difficult to keep up with. If the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Beyoncé can get behind Archy Marshall’s music then we certainly can, too.

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