“Through the Yard” – Kauf
And now, as if to prove that neither conciseness nor organic details are the only tools in a performer’s toolbox, here is the nearly seven-minute-long “Through the Yard,” buttering your ears with its smooth hypnotic charm and groove-based melancholy. Music is more than ever a wide world, easily discerned when commercial radio stations are turned down.
Existing at a nexus we might not otherwise have noticed, joining world music to 21st-century electronica to late-era Roxy Music, “Through the Yard” launches off an ascending pentatonic scale, affected via synthesized woodwinds. Pentatonic scales, with five notes versus the usual seven, produce intervals with a far-away, vaguely non-Western feeling. And if the riff’s persistence here grounds the song in an open-ended inquiry, the lyrics further the effect, with Kauf mastermind Ronald Kaufman singing a series of clipped phrases rendered mysterious via beginnings and endings that are swallowed or otherwise indecipherable—we pick out words but not concrete meaning. It seems no accident that the song’s most-repeated lyric, “If you make a little noise,” is inherently unresolved: if you make a little noise, THEN what? I don’t think we find out.
The song, nevertheless, delivers a certain kind of arc. At first, “Through the Yard” is held together by its riff, its smartly assembled percussive sounds, and the layered allure of Kauf’s half-rich/half-disaffected vocals. A fuller-fledged electronic beat emerges at the three-minute mark. And while the first half of the song revolves around what feel like verses, the second half, after the underlying beat comes forward, employs subtler, higher-register melodies, with an upward-floating feel, and matches them against more insistent sounds below (for instance, that off-kilter line repeated by a trumpet-like synth first around 3:40, and more insistently again around 4:30). Through it all I feel drawn to how Kauf presents as both disconsolate and upbeat at the same time. I identify that as the Bryan Ferry element here.
“Through the Yard” is slated to be the final track on Kauf’s debut album, Regrowth, slated for release later this year. In the meantime, you can check out two other tracks at his Bandcamp page. Kaufman is based in Los Angeles. Thanks to the artist for the MP3.
MP3 no longer available as of August 2016.
photo credit: Daniel Trese