Jun 13, 2012
Tomorrow, we're thrilled to welcome back the spectral R&B of How to Dress Well, aka Chicago's Tom Krell. Krell blends dissonant electronic soundscapes and simple piano loops with his distinctive falsetto croon. R&B has certainly become very much in vogue in the last few years, just in time for Krell to find an extremely receptive national audience for his music. Yet Krell's work is unparalleled in its haunting force, its sheer emotional intensity paired with a radical surrealism. This music exists in a nostalgia-drenched netherzone between fantasy and reality, inducing a narcotized confusion as though you're just waking up from a fever dream.
The last time Krell played Holocene (about a year and a half ago), we were talking Sade one moment and Nietzsche's aphorisms the next. Krell is a phD student in Philosophy, and he's very comfortable occupying two distinct worlds: the sensual/mystic and the rational/lucid.
In a recent chat with Interview Magazine, Krell discussed his approach to pop versus philosophy:
"One of the things music allows me to do that philosophy doesn't is explore the ways in which the trite shit is hella true. My friend died, and all I could think to say for six months was the most trite bullshit. But it was these trite phrases that were tapping into the core of my missing him and pain and happiness at having known him. One of the reasons I don't like to talk about philosophy and music in the same breath is that, for me at least, pop melody and pop song structures and stuff let me be trite and not feel like I'm not being articulate enough or not taking things seriously enough, like taking seriously the meaning of trite statements.
It's hard to intellectualize one's position, but most of the time I'm walking around like, "Ugh, I don't know what I want, I don't know what I need, who am I?" [laughs] And I'm not thinking like, "Oh, of course I'm always separated from myself because of the constitution of the human subject and the belatedness and the essential delay of generational transmission." I'm like, "No, fuck, I'm horny, I'm lonely, ugh." [laughs] I don't know.
My one thing with the record is that I wanted to make something alien that wasn't alienating. And I think that the last thing I want is to dedicate my life to something which renders me further and further from being at home in my life—progressively more alienated and separate from myself."
In his "alien but not alienating" art, Krell offers up an undiluted emotional expression. It can be universally felt, even as it entirely evades categorization or rationalization. Feel the purity of this sweet heartache on his new track "Ocean Floor for Everything", from his forthcoming LP Total Loss, out this fall:
Illustration by RAH
Posted by GA
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