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Album Review - CAT OF NINE TALES by Austin Galante



By Anusmita Datta


It was a pleasant surprise when I received an email asking me to review the debut album of the aforementioned trip - hop artist. As an avid fan of the trip-hop genre I was ecstatic to discover that the trip hop world is not a barren desert and that there are upcoming artists (albeit not many) in this genre. 

Austin Galante is a California based musician, model and photographer. As an original member of the band Black Market Maven and founding member, guitarist and producer for the band Bad Fathers he has produced and collaborated with them on many albums and has worked alongside famed musicians such as Cee Lo Green, Blueprint and #0 of Slipknot. He is a seasoned musician having played at various venues such as the Sunset Strip Music Festival, SXSW and The Warped Tour and has opened shows for artists like Cee Lo Green, Bush and 30 seconds to Mars. Through years of wild parties and concerts with his band, Austin Galante has slowed down to create his solo Trip- Hop venture.

The current popular music scene is dominated by cookie cutter artists spewing the same commercial pop and weak tunes which pass as rock music these days. If you want to steer clear of bouncy, sugary, cheery teen- angst music, Austin Galante’s debut album will come as a welcome detour. Dark and mysterious, the album Cat of Nine Tales artfully mixes trip - hop with Dubstep, Hip - hop, electronic and rock to create unusually captivating songs.

Cat of Nine tales is Austin Galante’s first solo Trip - Hop album which he has produced himself and which was mixed and mastered by his friend, and ex-guitarist for “Bad Fathers”, DJ Jethro. The ‘Nine Tales’ refer to the nine tracks present on this album. No two songs on the album are identical but each song on this album beautifully leads to the next song and one can instantly recognize the continuing sounds and influences. The underlying themes of this album seems to be lust, attraction, love, loss and the intense emotions of a relationship but instead of dealing with such topics in the clich├ęd pop and ballad way, Cat of Nine Tales’ take on them is dark and twisted. The music on this album can be referred to as being moody instead of depressing and is certainly recommended to those who have a basic knowledge of the Trip - Hop genre. 

Walked into the room is the first track on the album. The ominous intro to the song leads into a Hip-hop influenced track. The languid rapping style vaguely reminds one of Jay-Z. This song is about the electrifying attraction felt by the singer at the first sight of a stunningly beautiful woman.

Sturdy Crush - Want the polar opposite of say Mandy Moore’s ‘Crush’? You got it! This song manages to convey the same message in a far sexier and darker tone. The percussion intro, sharp electronic beats, background vocals and music lends a dark an eerie atmosphere to the track.

You’re Perfect is one of the few unusually mellow and relaxed songs in the album. The wavering, soft vocals and the relaxed background score bring to mind some ancient religious chant! Interestingly, one can almost hear an East Asian folk song in the background. One of my favourite tracks on the album, the song and lyrics are meant for a lover.

Permanently In My Thoughts continues along the relaxed and mellow vein although the song is much darker and quite creepy. The dramatic vocals sound like that of Serj Tankien from “System of a Down”. The lyrics and the overpowering background music give this song a very sinister edge. Once you’ve heard this song, the next time you’re in a dark alley and are constantly looking over your shoulder- this will be the song playing in your head! It is an excellent piece of Trip-Hop.

I’ll Know Tomorrow veers off towards rock. This track is far more mainstream than the preceding tracks and contains an excellent bass line. With a faster tempo and nice backing vocals this is a worthy rock song in an otherwise trip-hop dominated album.

Punch a Hole in Me is the song that excellently mashes both Hip-hop and Trip-Hop. The angst filled vocals aptly deliver the frustration of love gone wrong described in the lyrics. The sampled voice loop in the beginning is reminiscent of one of Trip- hop’s greatest bands- “Massive Attack”. Another excellent aspect of the song is the rap section in the middle and hence it is safe to say this is my favourite track in the album.

Bloody Cuddles and Kisses - The influence of Dubstep on this song is unmistakable. As the album progresses the songs become more pessimistic and dark, with this song describing a declining relationship. The bitter title of the song should be an indication that this track is quite depressing. 

Losing you is dominated by a sharp and ominous string section in the background. The song describes the end of a relationship and its aftermath, and the complicated relationship the artist has with the two loves of his life- one of them being music. As mentioned before, each song has clues about the next track, and this song has similar Dubstep influences like the previous one.

Even Laughing Hurts - This is the one anomaly of the album. It sticks out from the rest of the album with its jarring percussion section in the middle. The vocals fade out and the song slows down to a relaxing pace when the tempo quickens abruptly with the ridiculous electronic percussion section in the middle. This sudden change in tempo makes no sense at all and the flow and meaning of the lyrics is thrown off by the inexplicable hodge-podge of the music.  

In the end, Cat of Nine Tales is a very well thought out and produced album. It is an excellent foray into Trip-hop with just the right amount of Hip- hop, rock and Dubstep thrown in. Austin Galante seems to have divided the life span of a relationship into nine sections and each section has been converted into a song or Tale. As the album progresses the songs go from describing the intense and hopeful beginnings to the bitter, angry and frustrating end of a relationship. All listeners beware- this is NOT a happy album. It is a serious album meant for people who appreciate and adore experimental music.

The album is set to release on the 10th of July, 2012. Meanwhile, for those interested, more music and information on Austin Galante can be found on his website and facebook page.

 

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