The Troublez With Gender by Tyrone Macintosh has to do exactly with what the title says. The title is inspired by Macintosh’s inquiry into gender’s relationship within culture and society. The expectations that society may put on a man and the damage this may cause are only some of the questions he ponders on his latest release. His music is filled with avant-garde experimentation, which feels quite original in a day and age when being so is a feat within itself. The four songs on the EP revolve around a clarinet that provides the primary melodies of the songs which is then covered and manipulated by electronics. All the songs here are original enough to compete with the likes of a band like Xiu Xiu, Scott Walker, or even John Cage.
The EP opener “A Sad Face is Good for the Heart” contains a oscillating synth as well as a kick drum, which provides a bed for the clarinet and vocals to dance together. The clarinet often trails behind the vocals creating a unique, cascading quality that was extremely unique yet enticing. What's most impressive about this song is even though this sort of composition may feel like alien territory to virgin ears there was still enough of a pop sensibility to have a hook. Underneath the experimentation was a pop song. “Are We Men or Machine” explores how culture can feed alpha male stereotypes into boys at a young age and the consequences that can occur because of that. Macintosh’s voice here is what makes the song work as he finds a way to combine singing and talking. His deep almost hypnotic voice at times slowly sprawls across the mostly ambient music. “You Made a Mistake” dismisses any sort of percussion and is similar to “Are We Men or Machine” in that his singing style is similar. My favorite song on the EP was “Judas Iscariot,” which contained piano and when combined with his moaning vocals and what sounded like a typewriter made for one haunting affair.
After listening to this EP I felt similar to the way I felt after listening to A Promise by Xiu Xiu. I felt a bit creeped out and disturbed but at the same time impressed with the emotional layers that this type of music was able to uncover in me. It’s an interesting journey and will not be for everyone. With that said the music is original, often times entrancing and will leave a mark.
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