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EP in a Weekend 7: The Human Soup - Cookin' With...
Posted March 05, 2014 by Rob Peoni

SmallBox and MFT present: 

 

EP 7 :: The Human Soup - "Cookin' With..."

 

Listen below via MFT's embeddable player:

 

In 2014, MFT has decided to place the role of curator for its EP in a Weekend series in the hands of each session’s producer. For the seventh installment of EP in a Weekend, MFT selected Dave Jablonski, whose work as a solo musician and member of Marmoset accounts for some of the most celebrated work to grace this humble archive. In recent years, Jablonski has established himself as a formidable recording engineer with his home studio, dubbed The Dave Cave, serving as a hotbed of activity amongst Fountain Square’s music scene. As is often the case with musicians, their taste matches their talent. The veteran line-up of Chris Fry, Peter King, and Justin North left little doubt that the most recent EP in a Weekend would be an exceptional addition to the archive.

 

Justin North

 

With more than 40 releases in the archive, North is as prolific as any artist on MFT. Pages and pages could be written on the eclectic volume of material this musician has amassed. His earliest recordings pre-date the archive by nearly a decade, reaching as far back as 1996. North is a Hoosier native and Ball State graduate who spent time in Chicago, before settling in Louisville with his family over the last couple of years. To say North’s catalog of recordings is diverse doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. From the Springsteenesque “Follow Buffalo” to the more recent, bedroom pop of not so savage tales from a well known world, every incarnation of pop and rock is woven around North’s unique perspective. When I arrived at The Dave Cave on Thursday to take my place as a fly on the wall, I chatted with North during a pause in the action about his decision to record and share such a voluminous body of work. “I don’t really view it as a choice,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve gotta do to keep my sanity.”

 

Peter King

 

Peter King has proven himself an ideal utility man (The Impossible Shapes, Learner Dancer, Hanz Bronze, Bait & Tackle Tabernacle, Homeschool) and a capable songwriter (Peter & The Kings, Uno Moss). A few days after the session at The Dave Cave, I ran into veteran Indianapolis musician Christian Taylor, for whom King served as drummer on last year’s cassette on GloryHole Records. “I really think it’s Peter King’s time,” Taylor said. He talked about how King had really come into his own as a songwriter in the last couple of years. In support of Taylor’s assertion, even the projects for which King plays an ancillary role, such as Bait & Tackle Tabernacle, he has broken through to pen one of the band’s most memorable tracks in “I Everything.” That’s a noteworthy contribution for a line-up that includes Fred Brown and Jorma Whittaker.

 

Chris Fry

 

Chris Fry is best known for his role as drummer of Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s. Yet, he too has had his paws on innumerable projects from his early days in The Academy to his more recent role helping to reshape the sound of the Todd Heaton-led Street Spirits. Throughout the first night of recording at The Dave Cave, Fry repeatedly expressed his excitement over his inclusion in the EP in a Weekend project. Fry’s skills as an artist extend beyond the stage, and in recent years he has displayed considerable chops as a self-taught photographer.

 

 

That’s sufficient for introductions, now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what these three musicians achieved over the recent, snowy Valentine’s Day weekend. The EP opens up with a buoyant, King-led track called “Sober Robot.” This was the first song the group recorded early in the afternoon on Thursday. King and North were the first to arrive at The Dave Cave and the song was fully realized by the time Fry showed up an hour later to add the drum tracks. Playful lyrics, warbling, shimmering guitars and straightforward rhythms meld to set the tone for the rest of the EP. The closing lyric proves fitting as the group has effectively snuck into the listener's mind.

 

North follows “Sober Robot” with the track from which the group took its name, “Human Soup.” The song finds North addressing one of his favorite subjects: the inevitable extinction of the human race. The opening line is so perfect there’s no need for any other: “The bells that bring an end / to the human soup / That begins like echo off the clouds / and ends with our minds / in the room.” From there, the track trudges along in a slow sway for just more than two minutes. Fry layers some interesting textures on rhythms. The hollowed sounds find Fry bouncing back and forth from his electronic drum pad to occasionally knock the rims and shells of the toms on his traditional kit.

 

 

This group proved unwilling to cast any idea aside frivolously - a dangerous trait for someone working on a deadline. Around midnight on Thursday, King and Fry began hammering out the beds for an idea built upon a fingerpicking riff floating around King’s brain while North felt out a bass line in the next room. After a few minutes of King repeating the lick without much direction, North appeared in the doorway to suggest taking a step back and rethinking the track. I abandoned my post as fly on the wall of The Dave Cave shortly thereafter, but, fortunately for all of us, the group decided not to abandon what would become the basis of the track "Breaking Bread." It nails the sense of comfort that routine provides in forming the basis of our day.

 

 

Another track the group refused to abandon is "Forest Light." The song kicks off with a straightforward rock n roll vibe, with North channeling Elvis on vocals in a manner so convincing it will force any Presley impersonator within earshot to hang up his bejeweled cape with haste. From there, the song unfolds in a sprawling expanse of instrumentals and cascading "oohs" and "ahs." This part was initially recorded live before the group decided to strip everything except the drum track and rebuild it from the ground up. The vibraphone, a permanent fixture in The Dave Cave, is featured prominently. Its tones, which are often mimicked by keyboards and synthesizers in today's pop music feel much more loose and percussive in its natural state. "Forest Light" is an ambitious, dense and complicated arrangement, particularly for a project confined to a couple of days. It's the longest track on the EP and arguably my favorite.

 

Fry takes the lead on vocals for the final track of the bunch, a brief and simple love song, entitled "Valentine." When I later asked Jablonski about the recording, he had this to offer: "One guy singing about three ladies, two of whom happen to be, you know, Peter’s girlfriend and Justin’s wife.” In setting the date for the session, Jablonski had failed to realize that he had picked Valentine's Day. So rather than spend the holiday with their significant others, the three musicians found themselves snowed in at a home studio in Fountain Square. Therefore, "Valentine" serves as a comedic apology to the better halves of this session's performers, and one helluva note on which to close.

 

 

More EP in a Weekend sessions to download/stream

 

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