CD Review: 3dCosby / Satan’s Secret
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Though I had an opportunity to chat with Daniel Harris briefly about his impending full-length 3dCosby album, Satan’s Secret, a collaboration with childhood friend and longtime partner-in-crime Matt Ross (subPixel), I only recently got a chance to sneak preview the record. An album that spent three years in the making, the time put in was well-worthwhile – its complex fluidity carries the art from start to finish.
On the whole, this record reads like a funkier Jon Brion movie soundtrack. Inventive and dreamy, only a few songs are peppered with lyrics – the rest weave jammy waves, and challenge conventions of folk, 70s rock, aughts alternative, and funk/jam genres. Satan’s Secret opens with “Kenvio,” the most eccentric one-minute waltz to which you’ll ever attempt gettin’ your groove on, and rolls into “Way Like Butter,” an idiosyncratic cut that glides between playful and pretty. It’s on the latter track that you really get the first inklings of 3dCosby’s creative depth.
On tracks three and five, “BC” and “Pipes,” I hear even some Fiona Apple influence, though infused with a much earthier rock. 3dCosby’s not afraid to end a song on a sour note, and they’re good at creating atmosphere. By the title of “Pipes,” I imagine the music would be an ideal background for floating around in a 2d Super Mario Brothers land, assuming Mario and Luigi like to boogie.
Falling between these two tracks, my hands-down favorite song on the album is “Paint By Numbers,” which hangs somewhere on the scale between Talking Heads and Bloodhound Gang reminiscence. Catchy and quaint, this song is immediately being placed on my next dance party mix.
“Diane” is a nice midway point to the album – a gentle and quirky rumba. 3dCosby doesn’t let you linger too long in this state, though, when they move on to one of the most interesting tracks on the album, “Big (starring Jared Rushton, featuring Tom Hanks).” The allusion to the 80s movie here is appropriate – if you became a kid inhabiting an adult body, this song would define the secret-agent vibe of your transformation. While it’s only the second song with lyrics, they’re not so easily discernible. As with many of the songs on Satan’s Secret, the song almost feels like a few different songs melded together, but the flow of the story remains intact throughout its alterations.
The title track is one freakily funky song. It toys with classic rock, and reminds me a bit of what Rush might sound like if they wore tye-dye. It’s followed by “Star Fucker,” which despite its cavalier title, is surprisingly sweet. This is where the album returns to its Jon Brion movie soundtrack feel, and gets carried through in “A Bigger, More Mega God.” It took me a couple listens to realize that the song’s intro guitar licks remind me of Dave Matthews Band’s “Satellite,” but it smooths into such a gorgeous spacey synth that it’s hard not to catch yourself daydreaming of marshmallows and lollipops as it wraps up.
The album finishes with “A Lad In Overalls,” a complex rendition of a simple ideal, and helps bookmark the end of the album with a similar statement to its lighthearted beginning. There is, however, a hidden track hiding at the end of 3dCosby’s debut full-length, and it’s a gem. It begins with a high-pitched drone, and winds the listener down with a challenging resolution of space and groove.
Satan’s Secret drops next month – nab it early, and be sure to hit up their release party show in Boston on February 26th at PA’s lounge (with Left Hand Does and Amoroso). Never has complication been so sonically sound – there’s a lot to get tangled in.