London-based musician King Krule, or Archy Marshall, fills empty melancholic spaces with deep blue soundscapes. His new album, The Ooz, (styled The OOZ) is a Milky Way bar, hard and crunchy on the outside, but full of soft deliciousness. Krule’s abrasive baritone sounds like he’s mimicking Big Chris, from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking barrels- out to settle some debts. Yet after penetrating the gritty and grimy exoskeleton, Krule’s music is tender and vulnerable.
In The Ooz, Archy Marshall leads listeners through shallow waters and deep seabeds, to heavy-hearted train platforms and dark blue caves; falling through the sky high above the rooftops, swimming through a blue lagoon, and wading to the bottom of the ocean we find ourselves dissolving in Marshall’s acidic vat of loneliness.
Marshall abandons the conventions established on his previous album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. While he does bring some quintessentially Krule staples along for the ride, most of the sounds are newfangled and fresh. The tracks still incorporate Krule’s signature ultra-reverby guitar lines, for instance, but are much less reliant on them. Marshall experiments heavily with synths and fills every nook and cranny on the album with ambient space noises, muddled hums, recordings of footsteps, drizzling rain drops, passing cars, and a sample of “Temptation Sensation” (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia theme song)- all elements of the dreamlike atmosphere that Krule creates. This dream is more like an agoraphobes nightmare; Krule’s lyrics continually depict him in wide-open spaces- floating through outer space, wandering through empty city streets late at night, and sitting on deep seabeds. The copious noise that Krule injects into Ooz is his attempt to fill the empty space around him.
Just as Nick Drake heartbreakingly sang, “Now I’m weaker than the palest blue, oh so weak, this need for you,” Archy Marshall similarly captures a crippling blueness that oozes into the abyss left by heartbreak; he spreads the color across his album like a thick coat of jam.
In “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)” Krule submerges in an aquatic world of melancholic blues. In one of his most reflective states in the album, he sings of a submariner wading into “a pool of strange things” and carelessly floating to deeper and darker depths. Krule paints “liquid scenery” with muted synths, echoing ambience, and descending guitars that help the listener sink alongside the submariner into a pool of woe. Simultaneously, Krule depicts himself wandering home beneath city lights at the earliest hours of morning, “those blue hours.”
“The OOZ” (title track) is the most poignant track on the album. A woman speaks softly in a French accent as an arpeggiating guitar sways in the background. King Krule’s voice grows closer as he asks “Is anybody out there?” and the French woman announces “the locomotive has arrived.” Everything dissolves and slips away, leaving Krule to float through space and reflect on his loneliness. While the ambient guitars and spacey synthesizers melt into the depths of the song, Krule’s voice lingers like a pulp, trying desperately to stay afloat.
Archy Marshall lurks through the album like a skulking vagabond, a passive nomad drifting lazily down a steady stream of sound. At times Marshall’s vocals are gentle and soothing, such as in “Bermondsey Bosom (Right)”, in which he sounds like he is narrating a nature film:
“Slipping into filth, lonely but surrounded, a new place to drown, six feet beneath the moon.” However on other tracks it seems as though Marshall is simply spitting nonsense, such as in “Dum Surfer.” Krule mutters: “He’s mashed, I’m mashed, we’re mashed. That cat got slashed in half like that.”
In Krule’s closing track, La Lune, he sings longingly towards the moon. His poetic last words ooze dreamily into the distance and the sound of rain softly hitting pavement is all that remains as the album liquidates.
“See I was raised to the moon
Just to hold a gaze with a view
Across the other side
It won’t be long till you’re inside
Till you’re inside my heart
…To be elevated to you.”
Henry McDevitt (277)