Sometimes, there’s no use in dissecting a record note for note, song for song, chorus for chorus. Sometimes, there’s a piece of art out there that truly transcends description, something so obscure or something so unique that it’s a thankless, impossible task to try and box it in. It walks the line of pretentious gleefully all while pointing and laughing at those of us who can’t stop listening to it, those of us who lack the vocabulary and intellect to accurately chronicle what we’re hearing.
Electro, self-proclaimed wizard-pop act New God take up residence in that area with their latest, lightning-quick 10 song set, “///A1.” The brainchild of the brothers Tompkins, Kenny and Curt, this collection amounts, in some ways at least, to be the local version of Kanye West’s “The Life Of Pablo,” some tracks clocking in below 2 minutes and one that doesn’t even hit the 50-second mark. Yet to those who might think this is nothing more than a series of unfinished ideas that should be fleshed out into something far more special … well, think again.
Because it’s already special enough.
Mostly centered around piano and guitar tracks that were recorded on an iPhone, these songs provide almost as much atmosphere as an Alfred Hitchcock marathon. Adding to the ambiance is a layer of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds that combine with a type of white noise heaven begging you to space out as far as the mind can go. It’s the type of stuff that demands a lack of nerve, soothing any high-strung sensibility with both class and precision. It’s best served on a rainy afternoon.
And the journey starts with one of the foggiest tracks here. “A1A” is processed groove at its best, complete with mysterious whispering that has a constant presence as the beat snaps back and forth with intrigue. The subtle breathing noises make for a spa-like backdrop that proves to be more soothing than creepy, more inviting than weird. It’s an intricate touch that accomplishes its job wonderfully, setting the tone for a group of spaced-out instrumentals that never bore.
Better yet is “A1D” that has a tasty amount of West Coast hip-hop swing to it, all the way up to the unapologetically dreamy organ and understatedly funky backbeat. Picking up during its short latter half gives the track an added layer of thought, making it feel much heftier than it actually is. Of all the wizardry these guys have accomplished since 2012, this might be the most enduring magic trick of them all. Loop it twice, send it to Snoop Dogg and wait for the next big rap hit 1994 could only wish it had.
Other tracks stand out for their hook-laden ideals. “A1C” centers around a riff that you swear you’ve heard before and all told, it will keep you up at night due to its incessant tenacity. Laying back, it feels effortless in execution, which proves to be one of its most attractive qualities. “A1B,” meanwhile, feels like it should have been on Dvsn’s “Sept. 5th,” its moody slow jam textures lending itself perfectly to the sparse R&B that makes its way onto a lot of modern day soul records. It also appears to be the most realized effort here, clocking in at nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
Yet these things don’t have to be complete to be lauded. “A1I,” the shortest selection here, slithers with aplomb through its 45 seconds and “A1F” neatly uses starts, stops and skips in ways that demands attention and respect. By the time “A1J” winds everything down with its traditional piano sounds and repetitive formula, it’s somewhat hard to even understand what just hit you, which, of course, is the point.
Because remember: These aren’t tracks designed to be digested the same way your run-of-the-mill pop compositions would be digested. These are ideas, fleeting notions that know precisely how long they deserve to stick around and precisely how much of them ought to be revealed. That’s the beauty. With “///A1,” New God have found previously unknown frontiers. To see how they eventually explore them will be the fun part.
For now, though, it’s our duty to be left speechless.
*** 3 STARS OUT OF 4 ***