The Echo Presents
1822 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90026
This event is 18 and over
With his debut single “Out Getting Ribs/ Has This Hit”, King Krule (formerly known as Zoo Kid, but still the musical alias of 17 year old Archy Marshall) announced himself as the startling voice of a new generation; his unexpectedly deep and mournful baritone tracing fissures of disappointment and disorientation to devastating effect. Comprised only of his stark vocals, guitar and searing lines such as “and I’m the only one believing/ there’s nothing to believe in”, it was a bleak but brilliant treatise on the inchoate frustration and fury of youth, rubbed raw and laid bare.
Now comes his second release, and with it, an expansion of vision, both musically and thematically. The connective tissue between these 5 tracks is still Marshall’s lyrics of searing clarity, but over the span of the self-titled EP, there is an arresting sonic progression, as his songs open up to become a loose knit meditation on regret and discontent, loss of faith and renewal of hope, and optimism in the face of desperation. Opening track “Bleak Bake”, for instance, opens with twinkling keyboards and Marshall clearing his throat, before sampled strings swoon in and he sighs, “everything hits you in the end”. “The Noose of Jah City” drives the knife in deeper, with Marshall singing of being “suffocated in concrete” over a lushly upholstered backdrop of chiming guitars and beats, while in the gorgeous “Portrait in Black and Blue” he concludes, ruefully, that “time never gave me a chance…trapped in a lizard state/ looking for an escape”. But even though the subject matter may at times be harrowing, the songs themselves are never anything less than exquisitely crafted, possessed of an almost spectral beauty, as epitomised in the shimmering instrumental “Intro”. Taken as a whole, the “King Krule” EP is the sound of a young man growing up and attempting to grapple with the realities of the world he inhabits, and a fascinating, brutal journey it is too.
“A deep, rich sound…”teenager” need not be a pejorative. After all, so was Rimbaud” – New York Times
“Oddly intimate and irrevocably bleak…(King Krule) makes deceptively simple, deeply personal/political art that finds joy – perhaps its only joy – in accident and chaos” – Pitchfork, Best New Music
“Heartache cloaked in cavernous reverb and a sneer…preparation for beckoning world domination” – NME
Much is often made of the relationship between artist and place. A common consideration for sure, yet it seems foolish to appraise any artist without considering the effect of his location on everything from his unique worldview to his understanding and use of the various elements that make up his musical vision.
Consider then what it means to make music in the following landscape: a city famed for its fearlessness and endeavor, struck by despair and shuttered. A city in which delicate, perfumed beauty sits aside rancid, mangled poverty. A city wide eyed and weary, at all times both monument and bulldozer, remaining itself through constant "de" and "re"construction.
That city is New York and the band is RATKING. Wiki, Hak and Sporting Life. While many of their peers seem too content to inhabit the safety of mimicry and pastiche, RATKING's music is best understood as neither reenactment nor recreation, but reaction.
To what, one might ask?
Well, a clip from any one of their frenetic live shows provides an immediate answer: you hear the fallout of a bloated and self satisfied hip hop, the nihilist refrain of dead end punk and the prickly reach for connection that befits their noise and experimental influences. Left with the various remaining bits of all these traditions and the bum-rush scramble of modern
life, RATKING are creating a new reality in every moment, just like every other inhabitant of New York City. While Sporting Life weaves a teeming Big Apple backdrop, Wiki and Hak act not only as our mischievous tour guides but dual ends of our own conscious: one sharp witted, vulnerable and seemingly anti-social, the other feral, poetic and almost philosophical. Call it 'no wave' rap. Call it 'no school' hip hop. Call it RATKING.