Whokill - tUnE-yArDs

4AD

Urban myth – we only use 10 percent of our brain power. Urban truism – pop vocalists use only 10 percent of their vocal power. It must be true in light of Merrill Garbus’ stunning sophomore album from tUnE-yArDs, Whokill. And, by stunning, I mean set your phasers to stun. Her vocal gymnastics are disarming and gloriously free of pretension or posture. She’s one soul pouring out her creativity unabashed against the world. From deep seated soul to wild wails of improvisation, she torques and twists convention. Using live sampling techniques and instrumental flotsam like ukulele and tambourine Garbus manufactures broken ethnic elements woven into wonky pop, Afrobeat, funk and rock. The first single, Bizness came out in the early spring of last year, and is still finding new fans and drawing them into the tUnE-yArDs experience. The rhythm is set to a vocal loop that echoes like dancing bones; a soundtrack of black magic and voodoo set for Garbus’ wails to follow. The expressive energy is relentless throughout the disc but it all hangs together with a singular vision. To be fair, there are a couple of other creative minds at play on Whokill. Bassist Nate Brenner helps fuse together the expected disconnects in the rhythms, establishing firm and funky grooves while engineer, Eli Crews took on the challenge of corralling the unusual sonic elements into a comprehensible package. As for Garbus herself, while not shy of social media and the business of blogging remains artfully enigmatic. Granted, she’s been touring solid for a couple of years, but there’s very little background information available, aside from her making the move from frigid Montreal to sunny Oakland. Her’s is a story I would be most interested in hearing. Keep your eyes on this space for an interview if possible. For now, she must live with a ream of comparatives with the like of Aretha Franklin to Yoko Ono, Bjork to MIA; none of which mind you, will bring you any closer to what your ears are in for on Whokill.