I accepted the challenge. I was asked by James, from Silent Kid Records, if I would be interested in doing a review of the new EP from Tony Njoku. I gave it a quick listen with a glance at the artist bio and decided I would give it a go.
I listened to the songs front to back about a dozen times. I read and reread the lyrics. I studied Tony’s song notes like I was cramming for a final exam. And I am still not sure what my take is on this EP. Let’s break it down.
Song 1. Killtony.
Tony Njoku tells us that this track is a favourite because he worked on it with his younger brother, New World Ray, and borrowed some words from a song of New World Ray’s. Killtony is supposed to be a catharsis song as he confesses that he has made bad choices in the past but is ready for a change.
“Imma change don’t desert me imma change.
I’m moving forward ‘fore the demons come in range.”
The song also mentions Yvonne Rainer for the first time; she turns up again in track #3. I have to confess that I didn’t know who Yvonne Rainer was so I spent a good chunk of my life finding out who she is, what she has done, why she is culturally relevant and why New World Ray and Tony Njoku mention her in their lyrics.
“I you try to run it again, then imam leave him for dead
I feel like Yvonne Rainer, dancing on his grave.”
It turns out that Yvonne Rainer has had a lengthy career in the field of interpretive dance, free form dance, performance art and choreography. Not my thing, but I respect these lads for knowing who she is and what she does. The song closes with Yvonne Rainer dancing on Tony’s grave.
Song 2. Zoro
I’ll let Tony explain this one himself as there isn’t much that I could elucidate that he hasn’t done already.
“ZORO too is a fun ride through some interesting and at time poignant themes. The track features a new UK rapper that I hope to hear more from in the future. I sort of just gave him the beat to do whatever he felt lyrically. A lot of the lyrics are quite self facing and unashamedly boastful, which is typical for this kind of work and some are quite thought provoking as well as sentimental; and the delivery is explosive in parts. I also think this is the only rap song I’ve heard that mentions the Anthropocene. Which is funny to me.”
Song 3. The Strange Dance Of Reality
Tony’s words again: “The Strange Dance Of Reality is an experimental waltz. It’s a song that makes reference to the avant-garde dancer and artist Yvonne Rainer’s style of dance and uses it as a metaphor to describe how I see/experience our lives playing out from moment to moment. Ebbing and flowing, rising and falling, decaying and growing; we’re all part of this nearly formless dance that’s perhaps aimless and definitely awkward but either way, in an endless scene, helps us create this strange reality. We’re all co-creators of this madness.”
I dived into this song and juxtaposed it as a dance with Yvonne Rainer.
“I followed Yvonne’s lead, her awkward movements
A formless dance that interprets life oh so well.”
If you are still reading this, here is a lyric sample that you should be aware of: “I know that I’m not perfect at all
I’m OK with it we’re all full of shit.”
I’m OK with it.
The Strange Dance of Reality song has some of the best lyrics that I have encountered recently, listen carefully for the waltz. It’s in there, but you have to pay attention. It doesn’t jump out at you like “Waltz, No. 2 (XO)” by Elliott Smith, a favourite of mine. You can “Take This Waltz” with Leonard Cohen, or do the “Pansy Waltz” with Shakey Graves. It might even make Tony Njoku as rich and famous as Queen who did “The Millionaire Waltz”.
I jumped in this far, I might as well go one step further, a dance step further that is, from a waltz to a minuet, the “Subway Minuet” by Manraygun. Enough already!!!
Song 4. Death By Dimitri
“This is a song about our existence; a lazy stampede and it’s marching towards
Death, like left right left, like left right left”
My quibble: I have been to lots of stampede’s, I have even ridden in a rodeo, which is a small stampede, and I have never, ever, known a stampede to be lazy. Hell no! Those horse’s come out or those chutes as 680 kg of pure adrenaline. They don’t march worth a damn either, it’s more like a rocking motion for the horse, and the cowboy does rhythm with both feet forward and in time with the horse, nope, not lazy, and no marching either.
Disclaimer: I participated in a rodeo, that should not be confused with being good at it, I wasn’t.
Tony’s take on Death By Dimitri: “Dimitri sort of follows on from that thought, but takes a more fearful approach I guess. There’s less hope here, instead of moving towards growth it’s “marching towards death”. And though that’s not a bad thing, I mean it’s inevitable…. however the tone here is fearful and perhaps angry. But in all that existential angst there’s still hope…here it’s presented as the guise of abstraction, psychedelia, the dive into the inner realm, spiritual relief etcetera etcetera. Production wise, it has the liquid feel to it. Like a lot of my production there’s that psychedelic quality in there as well. Essentially it’s a slow cruising trap influenced track about the enlightening qualities of intense psychedelic experiences.”
This EP challenged me in a good way. I had to listen attentively, I had to read carefully, and I had to be open to new and often awkward moments. I would recommend this as a good listen. The high falsetto voice is a bit of an acquired taste, but hey, I learned to like the Bee Gees in their disco days, so a little extra falsetto never hurt.
Review by Norman @ WeatheredMusic.ca