DEBBY FRIDAY, “Hot Love” (Sub Pop)
The Bitchpunk (2018) and Death Drive (2019) cassette EPs on the Deathbomb Arc label established DEBBY FRIDAY as a steely presence on the mic and a formidable electronic-music producer. Her stern yet sensual vocals mesh smoothly with the rugged, distortion-drenched beatscapes whose DNA traces back to British dubstep's gripping early daze. The tapes' merciless beats, warped bass plunges, and menacing atmospheres coalesce into grimly exultant anti-anthems. So, this is not an artist you'd expect Sub Pop to snap up, but maybe those abundant Beach House/Weyes Blood profits have inspired some risk-taking in the executive suite on Fourth Avenue.
FRIDAY's debut album, GOOD LUCK (out March 24), reveals her experiences as a teen raver, and it transmutes that euphoria into more hardened adult realities. A Nigerian-born Toronto-based musician who's also a filmmaker and a writer interested in psychology, astrology, and philosophy, FRIDAY proves her mettle in the studio and her expertise with intricate vocal arrangements on these 10 strong tracks.
Two of the better ones fall at album's end. “Pluto Baby” is a stark dubstep pulper, shot through with Throbbing Gristle-esque electroshock currents that underscore FRIDAY's mantra “I love to love, I love to love.” “Wake Up” conjures a hazy fantasia of multi-layered scatted vocals and chants that get ruptured by tower-block-toppling beats that would impress the Bug's Kevin Martin. The bass-heavy vocal-house stomper “I Got It” most closely reflects FRIDAY's rave past. The brutal, downtempo confessional “Let U Down” finds FRIDAY admitting, “I've been a bad girl all my life/And I've been a mean lover/And I've been a dream-crusher/I know I let u down.” But all is forgiven for a song this compelling.
“Hot Love” (not a T. Rex cover) cruises swiftly down nocturnal urban streets on beats that you might have heard on a new-wave-club smash circa 1980 with swerving bass wobble and chilling Bernard Herrmann strings striated into a staccato, suspenseful blur. FRIDAY says the song “is about the karma of relationships. You meet someone, and you idealize them, you project onto them, and they do the same to you, and it’s all fun and games until it isn’t. This way of loving is so intoxicating and combustible and so hot it burns you right up.” Who hasn't been there? The music vividly dramatizes that intensely bittersweet feeling, and it feels like an underground hit, at the very least.
DEBBY FRIDAY performs at Barboza on April 13.
Dave Lombardo, “Journey of the Host” (Ipecac Recordings)
I didn't wake up yesterday thinking I'd be raving about a track by Dave Lombardo, drummer of thrash-metal gods Slayer, in 2023, but here we are. “Journey of the Host” the lead cut from the influential Cuban-American sticksman's first solo album, Rites of Percussion (out May 5), is an extravagant display of rhythmic prowess from the versatile musician who's worked with Mike Patton's Fantômas, John Zorn, DJ Spooky, Mr. Bungle, and the reunited Misfits, among many others.
The concept for Rites of Percussion originated 25 years ago when Patton hipped Lombardo to Tito Puente's scorching 1958 LP, Top Percussion. Patton, who also runs Ipecac Recordings, kept on urging Lombardo to do a drum record that would exhibit his full skillset on an array of percussion instruments. Now it's finally arrived.
Only one piece is available at the moment, but it's enough to have me excited about all 13 tracks on the record. Just perusing the list of tools at Lombardo’s disposal should tingle your nerves: large concert bass drum, timpani, and grand piano, plus a banquet of shakers, maracas, Chinese and symphonic gongs, Native American drums, congas, timbales, bongos, batás, wood blocks, djembes, ibos, darbukas, octobans, cajóns, and cymbals. I had to look up almost half of those.
Right out of the gate, “Journey of the Host” flaunts Lombardo’s underutilized funk chops and showcases his power and dexterity, as he deftly batters every component of his kit while swinging like a maniac. Aficionados of library-music composers/drummers such as Klaus Weiss and Tullio De Piscopo will surely dig Lombardo’s suspenseful tom-tom rolls, furious timbale slaps, and what sounds like a Theremin pushed to its highest pitches.
Also, if “Journey of the Host” is any indication, hip-hop producers are going to flip over all the sampling possibilities. Thank you, Mr. Patton, for relentlessly encouraging Lombardo to flex his mighty beats without the distractions of other musicians.