DIRTY BEACHES – (2011) BADLANDS
This is the album by Alex (aka Dirty Beaches) Hungtai Zhang, a Taiwanese living in Canada that offered in 2011 an artful mixture of hazy rockabilly and psychedelic lo-fi with a unique “distant-crushed” humid tropical flavor in a sense of a low-energy/drifting vibe of a day spent. In this DIY gem, recorded in its home with very few resources available, he creates a solomonic album, divided into two distinct parts and characterized by different sound.
The first 4-piece sung by the canons of fishing grounds of rockabilly contaminated by industrial sounds and waves. The songs are psychotic rock infuse slow-dancing music of the 50s boogie-woogie. In the second half of the disc, brings a different soul to the album. The sound is always retro atmosphere but here he brings the romanticism and lament.
His songs lean heavier on the distortion feeling of dark beats and crashing waves of reverb. His proto-blues and sinister crooning is swooning and eerie, always one note away from falling apart, just one second away from suicide. The instrumental side is pure cinephilia, where the space is grim. Layers of sounds are dense and the pace doesn’t stop.
“Lord Knows Best” is been on the list of every blog as one of the songs of 2011. The song is a hypnotic, romantic and desperate at the same time. It has a Golden Age of Hip-Hop piano loop but instead of blunt-stained rappers speaking the truth Hungtai’s liquid croon just flows over it, all simple seduction.
What it makes the album a gem is Alex itself. He is a true crooner. A voice that is always in constant move. He is sexual with the reverb sometimes disturbing, sometimes dreamlike. Unique to the palate. A physical soul voice with stories full of mystery and intimacy and not always with a happy ending.
A quote from Alex ” You walk at night often enough, sooner or later you’ll run into a ghost.”
The link below has an interview with Alex Zhang Hungtai