Body Games, Fifty Foot Shadows
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Marley Carroll has a prismatic array of musical manifestations, and your impression can change based on which part of the spectrum you choose to view. As a singer and songwriter, he penned the eminently danceable indie hit “The Hunter.” As a DJ, he constructs expertly-mixed marathon sets that juxtapose vintage soul, disco and Afrobeat with modern house flourishes. Now, with his forthcoming record on Emancipator’s Loci imprint, Carroll has focused his attention on rhythm-forward instrumental electronica that is as meticulously-detailed as it is sublime. Taking its inspiration from the natural world, specifically flying and flocking creatures, Flight Patterns represents a new high watermark for the veteran producer.
Carroll’s humble origins as a classically-trained pianist and percussionist were shattered after he took top honors at a statewide DJ battle at the prodigious age of 17. The experience catapulted him into notoriety, pitting his skills against DJs twice his age and catalyzing his path towards career musicianship. In the intervening years he has completed a transformation into a dynamic electronic music producer, world-class turntablist and captivating live performer.
As a producer, Carroll’s early experiments wove the stuttering precision of mid-era Warp (Boards of Canada, Autechre) with the gauzy emotional haze of shoegaze (My Bloody Valentine), culminating in the well-loved debut LP Melanaster. His follow-up, 2013’s Sings, revealed a more rhythmically-driven version of Carroll’s vision, influenced by the galvanic dance floor energy of larger live audiences. A densely-propulsive electronic journey rooted in shadowy forest imagery, Sings received universal critical acclaim, drawing praise from tastemakers like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Stereogum, and was honored with an album-of-the-week nod at Bandcamp.
Onstage, Carroll brings a more raw and improvisatory adaptation of his music to rapt audiences, combining live sampling, drum pads and looping with stunning and often unorthodox turntable skills. He has shared the stage with similarly-minded peers like Floating Points, Bonobo and DJ Shadow and has appeared at groundbreaking music festivals across the country (Coachella, Decibel, Moogfest).
With Flight Patterns, Carroll has tuned his instruments skyward and infused his unique style of subtle and compelling dance music with samples and textures from the natural world. Bird songs, field recordings, gongs, deep basses, wooden drums and plaintive analog synths provide the substrate for expansive songs with the kind of three-dimensional depth that invites immersive, intentional listening. Flight Patterns is out 11/16 on Loci Records.
A lot of artists working to merge dance music’s propulsive complications with straightforward songwriting structures aim for something as simply excellent as this, and they often fail; however, Carroll hits a direct bullseye with “The Hunter”, and when the tart synth winds in about halfway through, it’s one of those eye-widening moments that should happen more often. — Pitchfork