EP Review: Untethered | Big Boys NYC
Back in April, the Music Sanctum reviewed a very special, hardcore album called ‘Year Of The Tyrant’ by White Devil. A heavily experimental, brutally honest piece of music, let’s say ‘beautiful in its ugliness'. At some extent, we might have a similar case with ‘Untethered’, the latest EP of the New York - based ‘Big Boys NYC’. But let’s dig further into it.
It’s pretty unusual for an album to introduce itself with a woman screaming in a loop for 3 whole minutes. And that alone explains my prologue as well as the comparison with White Devil. ‘Isolated’ is a punch in the face to a casual listener, and maybe a stroke or heart attack to people untouched by genres other than mainstream pop. Heavy percussion and blurry synths make for a noisy, underground anthem while a mysterious, ethnic-tasting melody (my cup of tea), makes the track a bit more human. Personally, I’d love this melody louder in the mix but it seems like the Big Boys went for a dirtier sound here. Unlike the following ‘LEO’, the layers of which are a lot more distinct and clear, offering some ‘comfortable’ pleasure. Here we find airy, ambient sounds and a bell synth that work as a tranquilizer to make up for the opening. The contrast between the two tracks is intriguing and shows the playfulness of the band if you ask me.
The machine-like bass of ‘Separated’ brings on the noise once more together with some dubstep elements, making a confident entry, hasty and neurotic. A -less aggressive- brother to ‘Isolated’, I’d say. Maybe not as memorable but surely a strong, substantial link to keep this chain of experimental darkness together until it’s time to pass on the torch to the next one. At this point it’s clear that the order of the tracklist has its purpose. We went through an angry entrance to a smoother place, back to the disorderly ‘Separated’ and into ‘Reentry’: A double-faced track that feels like going from paradise straight to hell. ‘Reentry’ is blessing us with a magical, crystal-clear bell and nostalgic, heavenly keys, promising to turn even the blazing-furious Cerberus into the cutest little puppy. But then… Right in the middle… An ominous melody is taking over, turning the bells from blissful to evil, like a demon inviting its dark companions to dance under its insidious spell. In the end, light and darkness hold hands until the track fades into ‘Suspended’, the final part of this experience.
The sample of a reporter speaking about the current disasters falling upon us give off this post-apocalyptic energy which is maximized by the cinematic instrumental. The ‘Big Boys’ are making their grandest move here with edgy, glorious synths in the likes of Tron incorporating sounds that need further exploration through multiple listening sessions. A truly transcending experience. It’s possible that ‘Suspended’ is holding the secrets of our universe, safe into its indistinguishable, cosmic layers. But we’ll never know...
And so, what I expected to be a brutal example of raw experimentation, ended up being a diverse mix of underground melodies, sometimes muddy and other times illuminated. ‘Untethered’ sounds exactly like what one would expect from a multimedia production collective. Fearlessly playful and bravely unclassified. There are no boundaries and no labels here. ‘Big Boys NYC’ belong to those ‘genre benders’ of our era who need you to have an open mind and an adventurous spirit in order to appreciate and connect with their work. By the way, that’s the only way to live freely as well. So sit back and enjoy cause you only live once!
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