Though it might be hard to say what exactly one would expect of the solo project of drummer Will Chatham (The Merle, You Dirty Rats), one would probably not imagine the glitchy, sample-heavy adventurous electronic-rock of Geekamongus.
Chatham describes the eight-song album as “geek rock,” but the collection is imbued with the sort of quirk and cool that the local percussionist exhibits from behind the drum kit. There’s an industrious work ethic on display here: A distilling of ideas and influences collaged together with groovy-yet-precise beats.
The predominant high hat and the stuttering rap of “Get Back Fellas” is a far cry from your garden variety geekery. Instead, that track — like much of Geekamongus — is equal parts stylized strut and sly wink.
“At The Right Time” flashes jazz teeth, shoulder dipping along church choir vocals, hand-drums, beat boxing, jingle bells and a sort of ambling Vince Guaraldi-esque melody line. Disparate, yes. But the whole picture, when all the pieces are assembled, reveals a warm grin.
Each song expresses its own mood, from the bouncy, explosive opener “Natchify Me” (with its thick bass lines and chilly, warbling synth hits) to introspective, spookily-atmospheric “Benevolent Salad” (the album’s longest offering, at nearly seven minutes). But aside from a full range of dispositions, Geekamongus also showcases Chatham’s instrumental abilities beyond the drum kit. Uke, guitar, electric bass and “hidden banjo” are listed on the CD Baby page.
There are also brilliant moments of clarity: “Keep your bottom in your pants,” we’re advised by the song, “Bottom.” Yes, Chatham has young children — probably the beneficiaries of this maxim. But these are words for everyone to live by. And if all of Geekamongus is not quite so rife with life lessons, it’s certainly an album rich in sonic experiments that pay off handsomely.