“The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook” by Sojoy
“The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook” is an artistic tour de force that tells its story through a variety of mediums stitched together in the fabric of an epic tale. Wanderkook’s travels are interpreted through art, dance, text, animation, and, especially, music. Anyone who saw the stage production at West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth last month can attest to how crucial these elements are to the storytelling.
But, even when those elements are stripped apart, they maintain their memorable beauty and convey a story all their own. The soundtrack of “The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook,” performed by creator Jonny Peiffer and his jazz septet Sojoy, is the epitome of a concept album. There are no words to carry the audience through the story; instead, the listener must embrace the energies and moods of the music and leave the journey to the imagination.
As a stand-alone piece, Sojoy’s sophomore album blends orchestral music, free jazz, funk, ragtime, waltz, and more. “Wanderkook” mixes styles from all over the globe, from ragged American rhythms in “Two Faced Rag” to Middle Eastern nodes in “River Goddess” to Brazilian forró influences in “Cloud Music.” It’s all performed with the sophistication and class of a professional septet featuring brass, woodwinds, bass, and drums. “Wanderkook” showcases a genre-spanning interpretation of world music translated into the language of jazz.
Sojoy balances songs on the borderline of traditional compositions and falling free jazz. “Storm at Sea” starts with a grandiose orchestral intro, only to lose its grip and descend into a babble of bubbling drums, fluttering saxophone, and reeds squealing like sirens.
While the album stands alone as a piece of art, the layers of reality established in the stage production of “The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook” give the album extra punch. But you don’t need to have seen the production to follow along with its soundtrack. Just sit back, close your eyes, and let Sojoy carry your imagination through your own interpretation of Wanderkook’s travels.
Check out the album here.
“Easily Amused” by Jig and Funk
Few artists have completely wiped their slate clean and created a brand new template more intently than Jig and Funk. While some artists experiment with new sounds and instruments, this Rye-based duo has now released three albums from three different eras of hip-hop.
The boys — Elliot Tously (Funk) and Tony Fiel (Jig) — made a splash last year, getting recognized by Barstool Sports, a Boston-based sports blog turned multimedia mega mogul. The duo’s party anthem is “Saturdays Are for the Boys,” a title borrowed from a Barstool slogan. The song epitomizes the current generation of mainstream hip-hop while also serving as a tune to shoot back tequila to. It documents party culture with such grandiosity and excess that it toes the line of fantasy.
“Saturdays Are for the Boys” is for fans of the luxurious rap pioneered by Rick Ross, celebrating objectively irresponsible alcohol use, showboating for girls, and rejoicing in dark humor. Barstool promoted the song on its website, and it has since reached upwards of 34,000 listens on Jig and Funk’s SoundCloud page.
“Easily Amused” is the duo’s most commercial effort yet. Jig and Funk have come a long way from their debut, “For The Record,” which revealed students of rap who studied under Leaders of the New School rather than SchoolBoy Q. Their 2015 sophomore record, “Same Roots,” pushed the music down a completely new path, setting the soundtrack for their rhymes with funky summertime jams. Now, the boys have become disciples of Drake and Future, cannonballing into well-waded waters of trap, a subgenre that dominates the national hip-hop scene.
Though their style is in stark contrast to the “conscious hip-hop” that’s so prevalent on the Seacoast, Jig and Funk boast some of the most impressive emceeing on the scene. “Ocean Blvd” and “My Beach” feature thrilling rap talent that is far from predictable.
The group’s secret weapon is their humor — and goddamn are they funny. Funk’s line about the late gorilla Harambe on “Saturdays Are for the Boys” is just the sort of savage hilarity you get when following the Barstool clan.
Have a listen here.
“bed.bug EP” by Sam Carp
Psych-folk is a bizarre term that increasingly gets thrown around to label any musicians who garnish their acoustic ballads with a few sound effects. But, with some acts, it fits. If the psychedelic folk of local bands such as People Like You and Slow Coyote is like a day-long mushroom trip, Sam Carp’s interpretation is more like microdosing on LSD.
Carp’s new EP is his third release in less than a year. The Dover-based singer-songwriter brandishes his melancholic style — what he calls “sadboy” — with subtle hints of buzzing sound effects. The songs pull at your heart strings the way a rider pulls the reigns to calm an anxious horse.
Musically, the singer-songwriter drinks from the tear-filled pool left behind by the likes of Elliott Smith, Owen, and Neutral Milk Hotel in their gentler moments. But Carp’s pop sensibilities bring a brighter side to all of the sadness in his puzzling poetry. In songs like “timber tomb (dogbed)” and “rubberbound,” the lyrics are consumed by their own riddle, leaving nothing but absurdity measured in rhymes.
Even Carp’s angriest song carries the waltz of a soft-rock indie anthem. “Devil Next Door” is an ode to the burning hypocrisy of neighbors trying to shut you up, even as they frequently make their own intolerable racket. As relatable as the song is, Carp brings it a step further with his lo-fi production — the only reminder that he isn’t actually in the room playing to you is the piercing tape hiss between tracks.
Carp’s incremental releases work well for him; they’re fragments of dreams, more like naps than a night-long sleep. We look forward to seeing what a full album brings.
Check it out here.