Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we continue our recent excursion through indie hip hop. The act in question? Walrus Tales. They’re an experimental duo that has set out to create a ‘diverse, eclectic, and visionary blend of sound where rap, jazz, and electronica collide into something beautifully unpredictable.’ Now, that sounds like something you probably haven’t heard before. Let’s dig into their new EP, ‘AE,’ to find out what they’re all about.
‘AE’ opens up with an aptly entitled introduction, ‘Preamble.’ The atmospheric, synthesizer-laden tune builds a masterfully unique soundscape around itself as it grows both in intrigue and complexity. Right off the bat, the hip hop influence isn’t really apparent. Walrus Tales’ vocals whisper in and out of the piece like ghostly apparitions. They claim to be influenced by Nine Inch Nails. Well, Trent Reznor’s influence is floating all about ‘Preamble.’ (As is Thom Yorke, for that matter. It's very Radiohead-y in the opening of ‘AE.’)
‘Drifting’ continues Walrus Tales’ jaunt through Radiohead-esque atmospheres. The lead vocals are more prominent and understandable now, and as a result, the lyrical quality moves to the forefront of ‘Drifting.’ It’s quite good, showcasing a falsetto-heavy introspection through sonic intricacy. There’s a bit of a jazz-infused percussion section toward the end, really crafting a bizarre space that causes the listener to have to take an active role in the experience.
‘Second Space’ is the first real moment on the record where the lead vocals take the spotlight entirely. This is met with mixed results - sometimes they fall out of tune. That said, they have a unique personality to them, and in honesty, they really embrace a soul-injected style. It may be the most accessible song of the bunch, which is a bit funny, since it’s followed by ‘Lil Codetta,’ the least accessible song. This nine minute epic meanders in darkness for five minutes before slowly building, but never quite erupting. It’s jazzy in nature, and certainly experimental. It’s hard to say right now, but it may be the most enduring track on ‘AE.’ There’s something about this sparse nine minute jaunt that feels complex and authentic.
‘Emails From Home’ is the only song on the record to actually employ hip hop influence. This rapped tune is quite excellent, and Walrus Tales continues their injection of soul influence, too. It rounds out the end of the record well, providing a huge sonic contrast to the rest of the experience. I dig the band’s attempt to diversify beyond one sound or classification - this album is successful in doing that.
Walrus Tales is a really fun little outfit with some compelling music. Listen to the EP on the Sound Cloud below and dig into it for yourself. I wish we had more info about these guys; they’re a bit mysterious right now. Once they flesh themselves out as an outfit, I could see Walrus Tales becoming a bit of a cult phenomenon.