by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
New York based Calvin LeCompte's debut album Zagat Rated is lo-fi to the extreme, full of raw tape recordings that hiss nearly as loud as the music itself. The songwriting works with these conditions, using the hazy technique to complete his sparse folk pop and warbly indie rock tunes, enveloping them in close proximity, maintaining a sense of spontaneity. The louder you turn it up, the more in focus it becomes. There's a clarity to the fuzzy textures, a feeling of calm that permeates from LeCompte's voice. Released at the tail end of August, Zagat Rated is his first record under his given name, but LeCompte has been creating experimental pop since the turn of this decade as Tough Knuckles, and his latest is as charmingly strange as ever.
Closing track "Love Is Something We Give Away For Free" is a warm meditation of jangly guitar, spindly chords that sputter throughout, LeCompte's slurred vocals, and haunting reverb so thick you'll feel lost in the woods just listening. After a quick verse, the song plays out like a mantra, built on repetition of the title phrase, and just as you've begun to feel that touch of enlightenment, the song (and album) comes to an abrupt end. On the track's new video, directed by Guy Kozak, LeCompte captures showcases his wavering monotone as he performs in front of a similarly lo-res background of hearts, cakes, and flowers. As his glasses pick up the light's glare, there's something undeniably genuine as you look into LeCompte's expressionless performance.
Calvin LeCompte's Zagat Rated is out now via Winston Taylor Records.