Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Experimental Electro
Dan Friel cuts a lone figure on stage, perched on a stool with a two-by-three-foot rectangle of plywood to which his various effects, keyboard and LED lights are attached. He fiddles away like an engineer, twisting dozens of knobs with his face set by concentration; his shock of red hair as wild and frantic as the sound. It’s a somewhat understated performance.
In an interview in the fall of 2012, electronic musician and composer Dan Friel and I spoke of saxophonist Albert Ayler; specifically, as vanguard as that music is, for the Ayler brothers, there was a strong desire to make “music that people could hum. ” Friel, formerly of the highly regarded noise rock ensemble Parts & Labor, is certainly a musician who is beholden to songcraft despite his leanings toward the difficult, weird, or somewhat unhinged. The fact of a gooey pop-nugget forcing its way out of plugged-in shambles is actually something of an inescapable impulse across the 12 tracks of Total Folklore, Friel’s second full-length LP and latest (following the “Valedictorian”/“Exoskeleton” EP) for Thrill Jockey.
After an impressive ten-year run, the members of Parts & Labor went their separate ways, leaving keyboardist/vocalist Dan Friel to cut loose on his first solo LP, Total Folklore. For his experimental 2013 release on Thrill Jockey, he combines the hard, crunchy noise of his last group with mammoth melodies to make aggressive synth anthems. The fine line of noise and melody is difficult to ride, and successfully navigated by few -- Ratatat, Black Dice, Fuck Buttons, and Sleigh Bells to name some -- but Friel offers up a nice balance of sweet and sour.
Formerly a knob-turner in the melodic noise rock band Parts & Labor, Dan Friel went solo with 2008's Ghost Town on Important Records and now moves over to Thrill Jockey for Total Folklore. He uses cheap keyboards, chained pedals, field recordings, and knick-knacks to brew his blown-out, euphoric tunes, and records them on an ancient PC. The precarious setup translates into punchy instrumentals instilled with the raw energy of punk.
Dan FrielTotal Folklore[Thrill Jockey; 2013]By Colin Joyce; March 1, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetNoise, as it is most often conceived, relies on dark imagery to tell its tale. Its most famous exporters lean on the squeals and death rattles of fractured electronics to casually prod listeners toward the limits of their patience. It's pain (or you know maybe masochism) that so often drives the consumption thereof, but ex-Parts and Labor electronics man Dan Friel is of a different breed.
Dan Friel was a big part of the now defunct Parts & Labor, one of the great unsung rock bands of the last 10 years. In that band, Friel and his fellow players managed to combine industrial electronic sounds with rock heft without rendering their songs cold or bloodless. That band was truly innovative, crafting its own unique sound and honing it to perfection over time without ever stagnating.
It’s tough to name-check windmills without bringing up the image of tilting at them. The unhinged squalls that rattle throughout Total Folklore, the second solo album from Parts & Labor’s Dan Friel, honor the characters implied in the track list. Like Ulysses and Don Quixote, Total Folklore is both bitingly clever and completely insane. Through an inscrutable network of synths, pedals, and scavenged machinery, Friel floods familiar pop structures with alien noise.
When Brooklyn, NY noise rock agitators Parts & Labor broke up last year, they had completed their jagged journey from DIY experimentalists to consummate melody makers. On his sophomore solo LP, Total Folklore, Dan Friel strips away his former band's harmonious goodwill for something more unrefined, aged and volatile. Working with field recordings Friel took from the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Tokyo, much of Total Folklore runs off unfettered and arrhythmic measures.
Total Folklore isn’t so much a collection of songs as it is a blunt instrument. It can be used for things. If your upstairs neighbors and their beautiful two children can find nothing better to do with their days then run in circles wearing clodhoppers and dropping heavy shit all over the floor, just hit play on twelve-minute opening anthem “Ulysses” and revel in the fact that, for the length of this track, you are undoubtedly giving them way more grief and having a lot more fun doing it than they can manage with those little hellions.
Bilal ‘A LOVE SURREAL’. Now that R&B is rediscovering its experimental fringe, with songwriters like Frank Ocean, Miguel and the Weeknd, the time may be opportune for Bilal, a songwriter from Philadelphia who has been on that fringe since the neosoul boom of the 1990s, when he began ….
There are jerks who will sneer at your setup and say if you’re gonna rely on the built-in laptop speakers, bro, you’d get a more satisfying aural experience standing next to a cement mixer. There are older, beardier jerks, too, who will try to convince you that electronic music has been the death of songwriting, and digital audio the spit on its grave. In short, there are jerks in this world – jerks just raring to rag on the music you like and the way you listen to it.