Canadian indie group Royal Canoe has continued its foray into newer, more textured territories for their new song “Scratching Static”, due in no small part to a feature from the mercurially talented Chicago genre-hopper NNAMDÏ, whose presence seems to encourage the most outlandish behaviour from the music surrounding him. Royal Canoe are no strangers to versatility themselves, so it was anyone’s guess as to which direction this collaboration might head in. We could have got metalcore or shoegaze, but instead we got this bubbling, jazz-inflected heater rife with stream of consciousness lyrics and irrepressible bounce.
The bass synths shift and disperse over a scattered jazzy drum line while twinkly pianos and assorted layers of subtle instrumentation are piled on top of each other to create a fully interactive microcosm. NNAMDÏ’s vocal performance is pure effortless excellence, casually traversing the spectrum between hazy melodies and a laconic drawl which coasts over the track at a cool 45° angle. The song is intended to reflect the interminable rush of New York jazz musicians playing gigs 7 nights a week, and the freeform nature of NNAMDÏ’s lyrics and inflections match the concept while building on this snapshot of a mythologised world.
“Find a rhythm and ride it high like a plane flown
Built from nothing, a lie to say that you ain’t grown
Grind Rodney Mullen mulling over prior payroll
Find love in something, burning up like Pryor’s halo”
It would be tempting to call this track ‘Modern Jazz’, but that conjures all the wrong associations. As well as that, the well of influences drawn from in “Scratching Static” includes jazz but goes way deeper. One day we may see a world in which genres do not exist and all styles of music interact with each other the way they do on this track, destroying all self-imposed barriers and letting go of our primitive tribalistic urges. One can only hope, but for now hearing NNAMDÏ match Royal Canoe’s joyous experimentation to create a one-off piece of alchemy will more than suffice. “Scratching Static” is the second single after the track “Butterfalls” to be released from Royal Canoe’s forthcoming album Sidelining, due on July 9 via Paper Bag Records.