On paper, everything would indicate that the recipe of Deerhoof’s crazy chefs must surely lead to disaster: noisy rock guitars, deconstructed Beefheart rhythms, sweet pop melodies, shoegaze saturations, free-jazz blunders, funky grooves, winks at classical music… Phew! And yet, the experience has held up for 25 years now. Like all great artists, Deerhoof has a spontaneously identifiable signature.
Even though they have been pushing the boundaries of rock since their foundation, the California band is not immune to certain dangers. As crazy as it may be, the approach of Greg Saunier and his band runs the risk of becoming formulaic. Yet, with 16 albums to their credit, Deerhoof are showing no signs of running out of breath. The band’s mutant music and their often abstract lyrics, evoking a world that’s losing its bearings, echo the confused times in which we live. As the title of the record indicates, if everything collapses, the young survivors will draw on the cave walls like their prehistoric ancestors.
Far from being on autopilot, the four wags are overflowing with resources and imagination. Playing wildly with contrasts, they find new ways to superimpose Satomi Matsuzaki’s enticing voice over the rough relief of the guitars and drums. In the process, they toss in disconcerting tone breaks, flirt with electronics on curious, frenetic dance tracks (“O Ye Saddle Babies” and “New Orphan Asylum for Spirited Deerchildren”) and go as far as evoking Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 on “‘Farewell’ Symphony”. To conclude, Saunier becomes a pianist and offers us a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “I Call You, Lord Jesus Christ”. Proof, once again, that in the kingdom of Deerhoof, nothing is impossible!