The excitement surrounding Archy Marshall (aka King Krule)’s first album has been building for a while. He featured on several songs on Mount Kimbie’s recent acclaimed album. Celebrity fans include Frank Ocean and Tyler, The Creator, and when he released a song from the album earlier this month it was endorsed by Beyoncé. Marshall says he ‘wasn’t surprised’ that Beyonce liked the track- a track he wrote when he was 12 years old. It is therefore unsurprising that when he decided to stream the album ten days before its official release on the 24th of August (his 19th birthday), his website instantly crashed.
Those in the pile-up will not be disappointed – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is mesmerising. It combines reworked songs from Marshall’s back catalogue (some released under his previous moniker, Zoo Kid) with a sprinkling of new tracks. Unusually for an 18 year old starlet, Marshall actually had years’ worth of material to draw on. His eponymous EP, out two years ago, was followed by records under the names Edgar the Beatmaker and DJ JD Sports, each with radically different styles. The inclusion of Marshall’s old tracks only serves to increase the intensely personal nature of the album, encapsulating his personal progression as a musician (hence the birthday release date).
Characteristically, the album refuses to conform to a genre; new-wave choppy guitar riffs compete with hip-hop style sampling, while dubby tape-delays layer languorous modal jazz chords. In his terms it’s ‘a very big jumble’. iTunes calls it gangsta rap.
Marshall’s gruff voice and twitchy, agitated guitar riffs hold together this varied soundscape. Frantic bebop solos in ‘A Lizard State’ give way to wistful guitars backing Auden-inspired lyrics in ‘Ocean Bed’. ‘Neptune Estate’ is pure gloomy trip-hop, coupling morose vocals with a hazy throbbing breakbeat and a steadily building horn. ‘Out Getting Ribs’ begins with an ominous twanging guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place on a spaghetti western soundtrack, but the track quickly turns into angst-ridden melodrama. The song demonstrates Marshall’s ability to rework a track – it’s more refined than the Zoo Kid version, more emotionally charged.
The album’s nocturnal, dreamy feel may owe something to the production skills of Rodaidh Mcdonald (producer of the xx’s self-titled, multi-platinum album). 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is pervaded with ethereal melancholy; Marshall describes the album as as ‘Blue Wave’ and after listening I knew what he meant. Some of the piano samples are Bill Evans, and the mood is certainly Kind of Blue.