Anyone in the mood for ambient, industrial, funk, fuzz and jazz noise? No? Try it; it’s… entertaining. Long time friends, Sal Cataldi (aka Spaghetti Eastern Music) of Hudson Valley and Alaskan playwright, actor and slam poet, Mark Muro, have put together 13 tracks that, for some, redefines what ‘music’ can be.
Such an eclectic collection of influences and ideas would inevitably create a non-palatable, sonic smorgasbord. But listeners might find that, although it’s a very unique sound, it’s somehow familiar. We have all heard these sounds before: Synthesizers, drums samples, spicy guitar, ethereal drones, deep lyrics – but we don’t always hear them combined in such a balanced way. There are some standalone tracks that are deeply immersive and highly disectable. Others, to be frank, are silly, mindless noise.
Now maybe, as a journalist, it’s an unbiased view because I am here listening to this at a desk, staring at a Google Doc, looking for something deep to uncover about the album. But I cannot seem to fathom a time or a place to listen to this. It’s an underrated part of music and overlooked by musicians. Picking the genre is important, but what is the target audience doing while they’re listening to your music? It’s an important piece to how groups gain popularity. If you’re into experiencing weird things because it’s interesting to gain perspective into creative minds, then go for it. But don’t try to jam out to this on your way to your 9 to 5. Because you’ll likely get a contact high.
As eerie and spacey as everything is, it is melodic and intentional. It’s a sandbox of sound – A confined space with no particular purpose but fun to explore. Credit must be given where credit is due – the musicianship is respectable and impressive. Cataldi and Muro are seasoned musicians with deep and thoughtful ideas, who likely knew exactly what they wanted to produce. As a result, a good portion of these tracks are very good. Plain and simple.
Ambient sounds are the basis of the album. But the quality and which it is made is professional and legitimizes the whole idea. “Timbuktu” gives listeners a taste of what’s to come. We are immersed in what their press release describes as a, “hot trek across the desert in Mali.” The instrumentation is well balanced and comes together to create the sonic illusion of endlessness, despair and waves of heat. The sound is ambient, but it has drive and a groove, making it immersive and mysterious. But what it lacks, is an overall story. We instead get a glimpse, or a picture. One moment in time. Like a painting.
The same thing befalls tracks like “In the Lap of the Drooling Buddah” and “Maisey Hot and Humid“. The music is tasty and enticing but listeners feel trapped in one space. Nothing new is leanred. There is no sense of direction, a feat well executed because we never feel bored or lost, just without a goal. If that’s something you’re after, then the album the rest of the album will be a huge hit for you.
The part that might throw people, is the spoken word aspect of their music. This style is often criticized, confusing or non-digestible to some. The song “Bottomless Seafood Surprise,” for example, tells the strangely erotic story of a woman who works a normal life but in an effort to shake things up, she cooks a fish her neighbor bought her one July instead the Lean Cuisne she normally eats. Then the fish starts to talk and says, “You and me. We are different. We are the same.” ..To some, this might have a deeper meaning, to others, it’s a distracting and comical story.
Side note, if that speaks to you, then take a listen to “The Meat Clever and the Butterfly” – A song where a Bernie Sanders sounding man talks about how amazing his penis. He describes it as, “an amazing creature with little bird wings, a golden crested head, streamlined with dorsal fins, independent suspension, and driver side airbags.”
As radical as these lyrics are, it is appropriate for the genre. Nothing else would fit. It’s just a very unorthodox thing to drink in, which will likely spoil the album for some. Even if you think it might knock it, just give it a try because you’ll at least get a chuckle out of it. The style Cataldi and Muro have created is well executed, but might be more palatable when sprinkled throughout other mainstream styles of music, rather than dousing listeners with avant garde strangeness for the sake of being strange. Those who are interested can find the album on major streaming services like Spotify and Bandcamp.
Key Tracks: Timbuktu, The Meat Clever and the Butterfly, In the Lap of the Drooling Buddah.