Deerhoof: Deerhoof vs. Evil

Music Reviews Deerhoof
Deerhoof: Deerhoof vs. Evil

The future is now, or… the completeness of opposing forces

Deerhoof never ceases to amaze. The band strikes a near-perfect balance between oddball accessibility and brazenly challenging their listeners to accept new and jarring sounds. The key word here is balance, between opposing forces: the past and the future, the human and the mechanical, the male and the female, the composed and the improvised, the crystalline and the obscured, the assonant and the dissonant. So it’s funny, and a bit ironic, that the band named its new album Deerhoof vs. Evil, as if its sound was merely a stand-in for the powers of “good,” when really it’s a much more all-encompassing blend of Yang and Yin.

From the opening track, singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s sweet, ethereal voice and the band’s erratic machine-blast music repeatedly smash into each other with the cataclysmic energy of particles shot through the Large Hadron Collider. The album’s synthetic flesh courses with the futuristic sounds of cutting-edge technology, while remaining fused to an organic skeleton of traditional global sounds, from flamenco to funk, Tropicalia to all-American riff rock. It’s a sublimely weird yet unselfconscious pastiche that alternately sounds like the indigenous music of a virtual tropical paradise comprised of tiny electrical impulses somewhere deep inside of a microchip, and a post-apocalyptic rock opera chronicling some distant world where precious metals are mined for use in the manufacture of android brains—laser jackhammers blasting away and machine-swung pickaxes hacking in hypnotic rhythm like an army of cybernetic Seven Dwarfs.

What I’m getting at is that Deerhoof vs. Evil is really the sound of Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity, of a future in which we we’re no longer exclusively human, but also part machine. This is something that keeps coming up in my interviews lately, most recently with Janelle Monae and Conor Oberst. But even more than those artists’ fantastic new albums, Deerhoof vs. Evil musically captures the essence of this hard-to-fathom-but-entirely-possible future.

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