Native Gold is a duo (longtime friends Michael Weeks and Lee Young) that makes the sort of music that can morph to fit the mood. It is flowing and free, not forcing anything, but rather, leaving it up to the listener to decide what it shall be. The only thing that can definitively be said about the Los Angeles-based group’s debut EP A Man We All Admire (to be released on July 5th) is that it is, without a doubt, a transcendent moment in time you will not soon forget.
As “Fake the Smile” begins, the listener drifts into a world of electric clouds and piano storms. Around 1:40 vocals layer over percussion and the deliciously dark revelry begins. “What feels good is good / what feels right is right / what feels wrong is wrong” and I’m dancing. The party – the kind that you might attend in the woods at night, unafraid of any wild beasts because you and your compatriots are the wild beasts – hastens its rhythm like a gyroscope spinning at full speed before spitting you out at the end of the song, to stare bleary-eyed into the light of day and the next track.
With electronic beats that sound like something I’ve heard before but with a novel beat, “Fickle” grows up from nothing in stop-motion to a full-sized being, whose main message is: “You, fickle and you know it, you know it.” As the vocals drop out, that full-sized being, a self-sufficient organism of a track on an EP in the opus of an artist in a city in a country in a world, beatboxes synthesized rhythms to rival any other pattern the human brain can piece together from disparate pieces. (I really wish I could see an fMRI of my brain while listening to this.)
“Begun to Begin” opens, vocals slowly inflating the instrumental. Then, [be still my heart] luscious guitar comes in to shatter my understanding of what I’m hearing, only to leave me, having let go of any preconceptions, coasting on the melodious layers Native Gold has crafted. It’s like tasting tonka bean: one of those unique sensory experiences in which language, in its beauteous capacity for description and definition and delineation and encapsulation, is insurmountably, astoundingly, insufficient to explain. “Begun to Begin” is an apt title for the final track of the EP. It conveys the unending sense of whatever it is we’re doing, and all the mystery of what is to come.
Native Gold has created something worthy of multiple listens. I could spew all the words I know, but none of them would do justice to A Man We All Admire. Go listen to it yourself. Then you’ll know what I mean.