Yesterday saw the release of Claude VonStroke’s third studio album ‘Urban Animal‘. The ten track saga boasts sprawling sub-bass growls and opposing high pitch vocal shifts, but it is this contrasting nature that makes ‘Urban Animal‘ unfold like a dark metropolitan narrative rather than a simple album.
Opening with cinematic droning strings before introducing sinister mid-range piano chords, the title track sets the theme for the entire album. It is all about the details and, like a well-oiled machine, vonStroke has an effortless knack for making multiple disjointed elements fit together harmoniously.
‘Dood‘ is constructed similarly with multiple overlapping pieces and, iconic to vonStroke tracks, live recorded vocal effects. A twisted male vocal riff is introduced midway that has to be envisioned as the main dude – or dood – character of the track. The slightly maniacal voice is spiraled into a driving back rhythm to create a feeling only describable as drug-fueled anxiety.
Where a large majority of modern tracks place vocals at the forefront, VonStroke uses voice snippets as another instrument altogether. Like the innovative ‘Vocal Chords‘ released years prior, ‘Lay It Down‘ and ‘Sugar & Cinnamon‘ utilise well placed voice snippets to coax a rhythm alongside bass heavy back beats.
Perfectly centered is the track ‘The Bridge‘ which – ironically enough – serves as mediator between the decided heavy-house flavour of the album and the following track ‘Oakland Rope‘ which shifts towards an undeniable drum and bass lean. With the contributing voice of Fox & Py and some warped guitar chords, this track outlier easily prompts images of old spaghetti Westerns – if old spaghetti Westerns were filmed in a Brooklyn back alley.
Creatures of the night can unite around the creeping bass lines and exhaustive layers of ‘Urban Animal‘. It is another testament to VonStrokes’ attention to detail and experimental tendencies though does not stray terribly far from his typical bass condensed recipes. Between managing the Dirtybird brand and his own solo career, it is good to see that Claude VonStroke can still sling out the slow-burning anthems.
HBF Rating 4/5
Urban Animal Tour
Oct. 4 – San Francisco, The Regency Ballroom
Oct. 5 – Los Angeles, Exchange
Oct. 11 – New York CIty, Highline Ballroom
Oct. 12 – Boston, The Sinclair
Oct. 13 – Burlington, VT, Club Metronome
Oct. 17 – Miami, Grand Central
Oct. 18 – Toronto, The Hoxton
Oct. 19 – Montreal, SAT
Oct. 24 – Austin – Kingdom
Oct. 25 – Asheville, NC, Mountain Oasis Festival**
Oct. 30 – Phoenix, AZ, Monarch Theatre
Oct. 31 – Detroit, Royal Oak Music Theatre
Nov. 1 – Buffalo, NY, Rendezvous
Nov. 7 – Eugene, OR, WOW Hall
Nov. 8 – Portland, OR, Branx
Nov. 9 – Denver, City Hall
Nov. 13 – Washington, DC, U Street Music Hall
Nov. 14 – Tampa, FL, The Kennedy
Nov. 15 – Philadelphia, Union Transfer
Nov. 16 – Chicago, Spybar