Paul de Jong - You Fucken Sucker - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Paul de Jong - You Fucken Sucker

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-04-06
Paul de Jong - You Fucken Sucker
Paul de Jong - You Fucken Sucker

First things first. You haven't heard much of anything like Paul de Jong's You Fucken Sucker before. Sure, you may have heard things with the same sensibility—all hail the mashup—but you haven't heard it with this particular combination of styles crashing into each other. Imagine Autechre, The Residents, and Negativland collaborating, and you're in the neighborhood. But despite its utter strangeness, there's a powerful sense of craftsmanship and attention to detail running through the album's core. This isn't just random crap getting thrown around for the hell of it. A lot of thought went into all the little parts when they were assembled. If you're familiar with duo The Books, which de Jong was half of, you'll see the clear evolution from their unique style of audio collage.

One of the most bizarrely standout features of this set is the use of creepily warped vocals on most tunes. They're layered, modded, and blurred into instrumental melodies. Combined with the large number of vocal samples, it makes for an oddly intimate album at times, like a fireside chat with John Carpenter's The Thing. 'Doomed', for example, splices together the charming little phrase "fuck you up your ass" in the most schizophrenic way imaginable. A minute later, it's proclaiming, "you can be anything you want to be". 'It's Only About Sex' is similar, with an ultra-dark opening that would provide the perfect backdrop for a remote Antarctic scientic base. But it morphs into a upbeat rivaval, with a sweet key lead and inspirational vocal samples. The vocals, distorted and pitch-shifted to the bass side, end with, "you will always be in control," precisely the kind of uplifting words of encouragement you'd hear in a self-help seminar.

To be sure, instruments are also chopped and regurgitated all over the place, making the album endlessly unpredictable. Lead track 'Embowelment' has a bit of an Eastern flair at the beginning thanks to its acoustic guitar and metal percussion, but that gets spun up and wrapped around a pair of organ melodies, before it's all pushed aside for a brief horn interlude. Suddenly, the entire song bursts forth again, except now it's splattered with bloody chunks of screaming voices, which almost overpower the song, but end up sliced, diced, and manipulated into their own accompanying melody. The album also swings wildly to a twisted old west saloon with 'Johnny No Cash', as a player piano grunts out its notes and a gravely voiced man puts Tom Waits to shame with both his voice and his words. The title track includes a vocal melody that starts out singing 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' but blends it up with a new set of lyrics with, shall we say, an extremely different tone ('Motherfucker, brother fucker, sister fucker, father fucker, you fucken sucker'). And all sung with such a sweet sincerity that it still ends up sounding innocent throughout.

But while there are lots of avant garde tunes, not quite weird for the sake of weird, but completely unconcerned with typical song strucutres, the album does go quiet in a few places too. 'Pipe Dream' is a straight up piece of ambient weirdness, if that makes any sense at all. Slow, disorganized bursts of clanging metal provide the heart of the tune, with chilly, hollowed out electro chords gleaming in the background. And 'Wavehoven' goes even more ambient, with gorgeous, delicate pads that stretch out forever, folding and morphing into each other over and over again. 'The Jar Bell' is absolutely hypnotic, with echoing chimes spinning around your head in layer after layer. Blunted voices that might have originally been yelling repeat over and over like mantras, adding to the sensory confusion, before you emerge at the songs quiet completion.

And the closing tune, 'Breaking Up', is... sort of a spoken word? It's out there, something of a companion piece to the opener, but with less music and more yelling. Sparse strings back a woman screaming her head off, shouting the angriest things imaginable. Yes, she's mad about a lover's betrayal, and not holding back. It's interesting, but not something I would listen more than once or twice just as a novelty. There's only so many times I want to hear someone scream "Cut off your fingers! ... Coffee up your ass!" before I've had my fill.

Still, this is easily one of the best albums of the year for the simple fact that it never stops surprising. To the last note, you'll never be able to pigeonhole what you're hearing in anything as naive as a genre. And you'll never know what to expect in the next song. If you try to guess, you'll guess wrong. There is a richness of sound, a willingness to experiment, that one rarely finds in music. Nothing is off-limits here, and it's exciting. This is a must-hear set for anyone with an adventurous ear.

Comments (1)

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I loved The Books and this album continues in that same crazy way. The title track is brilliant but that last track makes me feel anxious! I didn't even get to the Coffee Up Your Ass bit!

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