Today, the NYC-based experimental artist drops America, a dynamic ode to dissension.
“America… is a bullet, America… is a gun.”
America… our incongruous nation might be the most compatibly complex subject to be disassembled at the hands of Sylvan Paul yet. Today, the experimental NYC-based artist drops America, a tantalizing triptych of heavy-impact electronic earworms on Wolf + Lamb. The EP is crafted in the dissenting spirit of Jimi Hendrix’s mangled and mythic 1969 “Star-Spangled Banner” rendition, which was praised for its ability to rile listeners, fusing “protest and horror with patriotism and hope” into something as traditional as the National Anthem. It is in the same evocative nature of paradox that America today exists.
“I’m not a stickler for tonal consistency,” explains Sylvan Paul (aka Justin Beck), who uses analog hardware and vintage recording techniques to achieve his signature de-glossed sound. First, he meticulously records and layers guitar, drums, and vocals with contrast counterbalance synth and drum machines. “I always want things to be wavering slightly in and out of focus so that the track feels alive,” he explains. To further “grit and human inconsistency,” Beck toys tactfully with reverb and overdrive. While his self-declared “dusty” mid-range renders an easy-listening hybrid of rock, punk, and electronic music, he wants his low and high ends to be less comfortable for listeners. We get more of this stark range in America, compared to “Speed,” a recent drop that SKU’s far more garage-rock with electronic overtones (as well as a BDSM-themed music video that we highly recommend)!
America, however, collectively driven by electronic bass, kick drum, and live guitar renders heavier impact. As its title suggests, the three-part compilation is about as comfortable and simplistic as the year that inspired it (and one that shall not be named!). Instead, it’s an incredibly exciting body of work, track to track and in itself. Title track “America” kicks off with a sexy, pulsating beat, crescendoing to disarray mid-way, but exploding into real chaos later on “War” and “Violence.” Beck’s blunt, spookily-distorted vocals provide further contrast. He also says he matched live drums with distorted drum machines to amplify the tension in the final two tracks: “War,” a bass-heavy apocalypse chant, and “Violence” a more linear, digitized Kraftwork-esq banger. In all forms of art, it takes incredible skill to pull off this level of complexity, but this seems to be the skill that sets Sylvan Paul apart from the rest.
Check out America below!