Mixed & Produced by Jack Stratton
Mastered by Devin Kerr
Jack Stratton — composer, drums, guitar, keyboards
Theo Katzman — composer, vocals, drums, guitar
Woody Goss — composer, keyboards, vibraphone
Joe Dart — composer, fender bass
Joey Dosik — composer, alto saxophone (1), piano (5), bgvs (5)
Christine Hucal — composer, vocals (2)
Richie Rodriguez — composer, congas (2, 3, 8)
Mark Dover — composer, clarinet (2)
Antwaun Stanley —composer, vocals (3)
Blake Mills — composer, guitar (4)
Charles Jones — composer, vocals (5), rhodes (5)
David T. Walker — composer, guitar (5, 7)
Tyler Duncan — composer, whistle (9)
Mushy Krongold — composer, vocals (10)
Be Hussey — engineer
Tyler Duncan — engineer
Drew Fischer — engineer
Pete Min — engineer
Keith Kinnear — engineer, bgvs (3)
Mike Shea — drum tech, bgvs (3)
Jack Stratton — album art
Vulfpeck, a funk group formed in Ann Arbor, just released their 2015 LP, Thrill of the Arts. At its core, the album is a celebration of music. It is simultaneously serious and funny, vintage and cutting-edge, setting a new paradigm for creativity and songwriting craft.
Vulfpeck, who recently signed with Madison House, gained notoriety in 2014 for their album Sleepify, which was essentially ten 30-second tracks of silence that the band encouraged its fans to play on loop while sleeping in order to generate royalty payments. They were ultimately able the use $20,000 earned from streaming revenue to fund their tour. Now they've got a new album of musical material and although it was made on a shoestring budget of only $10,000 it's one of the best to come out this year.
Proudly living up to its title, Thrill of the Arts explores a multitude of different styles including blues, pop, soul, and electronic music seamlessly sewn together through a shared funky swagger. There is a sequential motive that first appears in the opening track, "Welcome to Vulf Records," and reappears throughout the album, primarily in the instrumental tracks. The sequential motive, which was a common calling card of the baroque period, is incorporated in Thrill of the Arts during musical interludes. The sequence also makes a notable appearance at the end of the album following the "Guided Meditation" where it is heard as ethereal, bowed piano samples.
Part of the sequence is found in retrograde during the bridge of their pastiche "Christmas in L.A." While "Christmas in L.A." starts as tip-of-the-hat to the classic Jackson 5 christmas songs, it makes a clear shift away from predictability to create a distinctively modern form for the track. Similarly, "Game Winner" has the reel-to-reel appeal of a classic Motown soul spin, with a melody that organically extends the genre into the 21st century.
Their humor is also integrated well into the music, for instance "Funky Duck" featuring the talented Antwaun Stanley is a clear send up the campy "Disco Duck" single by Rick Dees, only this time, the lyrics feature a topical twist.
"He's on the scene (He's a funky duck) He's the first to leave (He's a funky duck) Drinkin' Ovaltine... Since he was fourteen... He's self aware... He gave the first TED talk... Can't remember the names."
The dreamy instrumental "Smile Meditation" segues directly into the last cut off the album, "Guided Smile Mediation" using a fizzy electronic sound to serve as a sonic bridge between the two tracks. "Guided Smile Meditiation" is exactly what it sounds like, featuring composer / vocalist Mushy Krongold guiding the listener through what begins as an ostensibly serious dissection of aura only to implode into a bunch of fart sounds.
Vulfpeck's Thrill of the Arts is a compact tour-de-force, filled with 32 minutes of exciting production, virtuosic arrangements, and catchy hooks.
For more Vulfpeck music news, including tour dates, be sure to check out their Zumic Artist Page.