Listen to 75 Dollar Bill’s Outstanding, Borderless Instrumental LP ‘I Was Real’
How do you deal with ambiguity? If I told you I couldn’t give you a genre or clean reference point for an album, does that intrigue you or send you running for the hills? Does listening to something and not being able to nail down exactly what it is you love about it something that makes sense to you, or do you crave structure, rules and familiarity? Your answers to these questions will probably determine how you feel about 75 Dollar Bill and their new LP I Was Real.
The band are a NYC duo (Rick and Che) whose describe their sound as “percussion, homemade horns and electric guitar.” It is a bit of a simplification, but generally captures what they do, even if it leaves out all of the interesting colors and shapes of their sound.
They have been around for a bit, but I just discovered them in the last few months (h/t Aquarium Drunkard) and have been playing a frantic game of catch-up with their outstanding back catalog. I Was Real is a nine-song burner that over hours of listening has easily skyrocketed to the top of my ‘Best of 2019’ list. Joined by an array of other artists on the record, it is a cacophony of sounds and influences, a collection of songs that somehow are both minimal and unending. It is a record that is as hard to nail down with a description as it is easy to keep on constant rotation.
This is a record that could easily be dissected by the hybrid of influences floating throughout it (that sounds like the rollicking desert blues of Tinariwin! That sounds like the brooding squeal of Velvet Underground!) – but I think trying to nail them down I think actually does the band a disservice. This album is hypnotic in its grooves, expansive in its melodic scope and visionary in its layout. Songs like the 17-minute title track are slow burning sonic meditations, while “Tetuzi Akiyama” is a horn-driven stomper. It is a wonderful mix of sounds, influences and feelings, at time relaxed and spacey and at other times hard-charging. It feels borderless in that it it is totally genre-free.
Even after hundreds of words, I hope if you made it this far you let the music speak for itself. If you’re like me, when you his play below it will be the first time in countless plays for a record that over the last few months hasn’t lost one bit of the excitement it gave me from my first listen.
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