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Songs We Love: Dan Friel, 'Rattler'

Dan Friel's new album, <em>Life</em>, comes out Oct. 16.
Walter Wlodarczyk
Courtesy of the artist
Dan Friel's new album, Life, comes out Oct. 16.

Cover by Sto Len / Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist

Earlier in his music career, Dan Friel was best known as a founder of Parts & Labor, an experimental Brooklyn rock band that expertly made its way around post-hardcore psych jams, with layers of noise and smarty-pants song structures for guides. Yet many years before Parts & Labor went on indefinite hiatus in 2012, Friel had already begun creating his own instrumental pieces out of distortion pedals and toy synths. Fantastic miniature slabs of electronic noise, rhythm and melody, Friel's solo releases played to the lo-fi avant-garde set, but also manifested as melancholy pop.

Like most of his songs, "Rattler" — a track from Life, which Friel calls "solo album #3" yet is actually part of a steady stream of regularly released music — is short, loud and moving. "Rattler" was probably more composed to be heard as part of the overall album, but on its own, the song wonderfully encapsulates the sonic whimsy and hairy wonder of Friel's music. It's a three-and-a-half-minute feedback groove­ that might have passed for a rock tune deep inside a late-'80s Sonic Youth album, except that the guitars are missing, the twin kick and hi-hat drums are products of machinery, and the metronomic pulse is what you get when you leave the idea of a "rock band" in the rear view. This music is accidentally heavy, in much the way that all of Friel's music is accidentally tuneful: It's designed that way.

Life is out on Oct. 16 on Thrill Jockey.

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