S T F U
Category: Electro / Alternative
Album: What We Want
Blurb: Bloody Knives’ Preston Maddox and the renowned Dean Garcia team up to create an album full of their respective musical hallmarks, full of lush atmospheres, enticing bass rolls, and infectious trip-hop beats.
Dean Garcia is no stranger to collaboration; besides being best known as half of the influential Curve, he has worked with such luminaries as The Eurhythmics, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, formed The Secret Garden with Statik and KaRIN of Collide, KGC with Sascha Konietzko and Lucia Cifarelli of KMFDM, and SPC ECO with daughter Rose Berlin. S T F U is the latest in his long resume of collaborations, this time with Preston Maddox of post-punk band Bloody Knives, with What We Want being the duo’s debut. As one would expect from anything involving two musicians of such varied and pioneering spirits, Maddox and Garcia bridge their collective talents to create a concoction of alternative flavors that is full of tension and immediacy, yet still soothing in its intricacy and atmosphere.
Each of the two musicians presents the hallmarks of their respective styles quite well, with Garcia’s smooth and sensual bass and his production savvy showcasing his ability to bridge organic and synthetic elements effortlessly being one of the most readily apparent. All the while, Maddox’s voice adds to the overall dreamy ambience, crooning steadily as if to enhance the haze of sustained pads and guitar chords, which is especially noteworthy in a song like “Do It Now.” The strums of guitar and the wash of percolating synths blend together amid a throbbing dance beat, while Maddox’s voice reverberates into the ether to create a ghostly effect that is as alien as it is enticing. Similarly, “Deeper” enters with a pulsating synth and a steady, strutting beat, Maddox’s voice almost harmonizing with itself as sustained echoes build upon the crystalline pads, and despite its title, “Slow” builds from a sparkling ambient intro to a subdued beat that comes to a strangely abrupt end for an appropriately disconcerting but delightful effect. There is a discernible trip-hop influence pervading the entire album, particularly on a track like “A Thousand Cuts,” which is somewhat reminiscent of Massive Attack’s “Angel” with its slow beat and rolling bass drone, the vocals carrying a subtle and decrepit melody that suits the song’s minimalism, while “Promise” is stunningly hypnotic with its metallic beat and repeating phrases of “Say anything you want.”
There is a rather monotonous factor to What We Want, with each track following a similar formula of establishing a simple but striking bass line, the dynamics of sound building upon lush pads, spacey vocals, and subtly intense beats and loops. Guitars are present, but usually providing more texture by way of distorted drones and playful feedback, making the lines between organic and electronic instrumentation all the more difficult to distinguish, but again, this is a staple of Garcia’s musical method. The vocal melodies blend in with, but do not get lost in the swirl of keyboards and guitar, adding another layer of instrumental intrigue, and ensuring that while traces of both musicians’ other more well known outlets are present, S T F U stands as its own entity and What We Want is an appropriate title for fans of Curve, Bloody Knives, or anything that Dean Garcia and Presley Maddox has ever created.