These Curds Don't Run," the new CD by locally based band Indelible Beancurd, is a highly diverting musical mish-mash.
Indelible Beancurd (not to be confused with the notorious hardcore screamo band Persistent Tofu), seems to be a smart, capable pop outfit, with an easy command of a wide range of musical styles and a devilish command of the mixing board (or whatever technology the kids are using these days).
The CD quickly announces its approach with a six-second intro that mock-pompously declares: "Indelible Beancurd - in stereo!"
The second tune is the band's theme song; ever since the Monkees, this reviewer has been a sucker for a band with a catchy theme song, and this one features a flawlessly rendered big-band urban jazz-funk-soul sound, circa 1973. One may find oneself singing it for days after listening; this may or may not be a pleasant experience.
It also needs more cowbell.
The album then slides right into "Pope Song," a clever, literate piece of jangly guitar pop, followed by "Outer Space," an even smarter tune, featuring complex, playful lyrics.
Next comes "Amidst Crosshatch Dreams," with its big fuzzed-out guitar riffs, wall-of-sound vocals, and background sonic mutterings. Then, just in case you were thinking of easing down into some kind of a stylistic groove, you get "I Left My Blargh in San Francisco," a drifting, multi-layered psychedelic folk audio headphone experience, or something of this nature.
We pause here to interject an observation from the Indelible Beancurd Web site, touting the merits of the new album:
"Thanks to audio fidelity technology delivering TWO distinct audible signals of sound waves, it's like two albums, one in each speaker, each slightly different, yet digitally synchronized for maximum ultrasound imaging. Pleasing for both left and right ears, this space-age stereophonic technology delivers hi-fi "stereo" acoustics across a wide spectrum, plunging profound sonic depths."
Just think what they could do in quad!
As the album proceeds, it settles down a bit, sliding toward its natural center of gravity in buoyant, harmony-singing acoustic pop, but still tossing in pleasant surprises.
These include the chugging, chanting "Thick With Luxury," with its poignant verse "A primary scene/a secondary scene/a tertiary scene/a backdrop," and background vocals that - to the best of my interpretive skills - include the repeated phrases "chimichanga" and "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
There's a lot of brainy audio diddling going on here, but it's not overly self-indulgent, and it's always used in the service of solidly constructed tunes driven by concise guitar parts. The band - officially just Dan Dreifort and Ethan Rand McCarty - has enlisted a small army of good musicians to fill out the mix, and the result is a rich, graceful sound that means you can listen to just about any cut and not be disappointed.
After listening to the album straight through, you might find yourself without any sense of the band as a cohesive identity. The sonic goodies strewn generously across every track, however, should make up for any resultant feelings of disorientation.
"These Curds Don't Run" is available at Haffa's Records in Athens.