King Krule: An Emotional Ooze12 November 2017
Peering into the mind of a rising rock star, Marshall dissects the repressed layers hidden within the mind, exploring subconscious processes which ultimately shape us as human beings. Adopting an array of aliases throughout his career including ‘Zoo Kid’, ‘King Krule’, ‘Edgar the Beatmaker’, and even under his own name, Marshall is clearly an enigmatic figure. This is emanated through his diverse musical styles. Marshall’s immersive album ‘The OOZ’ has just surfaced, his second release as ‘King Krule’ since ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’. His most emotional record yet, London based singer-songwriter and producer takes us on a visceral experience, capturing evocative glimpses of loneliness and isolation in response to a ruined love affair. Although painfully poignant, Marshall’s fiery untamed spirit cries out like a wolf howling beneath the moon.
Only 23 years of age, Marshall’s insightful tales of rejection come as a surprise from his ghostly white complexion, hollow cheek bones and crimson coloured hair. His raw emotional voice is hauntingly beautiful in a way – depicting the more dark and neglected side of human nature, something unavoidable. Describing the album himself as being “all about gunk”, the often disorientating atmosphere attempts to convey processes within the subconscious. His lyrics are full of insecurities, with anxiety looming over his head like a heavy cloud, waiting to burst at any moment. “I saw some crimes when I was young and now my brain is gunk,” he sings on “Vidual.” “I don’t trust anyone, only get along with some.”
Underpinning his work shed light on the effects of loneliness and mental illness, an audio representation of “all that slime inside of us”. Marshall’s album navigates its way through an abyss of uncertainty. “I think she thinks I’m bipolar”, he solemnly sings on “Biscuit Town”. The turbulent ambience featuring a looped beat on “Emergency Blimp” seems almost discontent with the cyclical nature of existence, as he repeats “these pills just make me jump”. Painting one distressed scene after another, ‘The OOZ’ sketches a grimy, chilling atmosphere, packed with a multitude of internal descriptions encapsulating the human condition.
The strung-out chords which seem to fade off into the distance depict a somewhat paranoiac atmosphere, lacking a steady pulse, as if Marshall is lost at sea drowning in isolation. This is particularly evident on “The Locomotive”, where guitars bend out of tune, lacking a structured rhythm, as Marshall navigates through “the dead of the night”. The sound is spontaneous and fades as quickly as it comes, almost improvisational. Paired with commanding shouts and voice breaks, ‘The OOZ’ creates instability through reflecting a sense of impulsivity that is uncontrollable and all consuming.
The wailing saxophones cry out for help reveal the pits of a failed romance, as Marshall mends his broken heart. This vulnerability is powerful as it reminds listeners that there is strength to be found in confronting adversity. “Dum Surfer” juxtaposes aggressive lyrics with suffering saxophones. A violent tone is established through its blasting bass lines, inarticulate words and deadpan deliverance, but the brooding guitar solo featuring mournful saxophones captures a profound sense of despair, as Marshall speaks without talking, drawing on his subconscious. The lyrics are almost inaudible, mumbling to himself, as if he is searching for a sense of coherence though his music. Contrasted with his scream-like singing, when Marshall has something to say, he shouts it. The constant repetition of this phrase is almost hypnotic, as if he is consistently battling his vulnerabilities subconsciously. Whilst his persistent groaning is self-loathing, it reeks of dissatisfaction and disgust, teetering on the edge of absolute isolation. Marshall’s assertion that he suffers from “whiplash”, a feeling of dizziness and confusion, comes as no surprise.
Moving through elements of muffled garage rock, to energetic punk rock, to soothing jazz riffs, it seems that there is no limit to Marshall’s virtuosic musical ability. ‘The OOZ’ showcases his eclectic musical capabilities. “Half Man Half Shark” features a jagged-like strumming pattern and rapid percussive beats, where the rhythm is chaotic and unhinged at times. Elsewhere, trippy synthesisers and howling jazz harmonies linger, as Marshall poetically paints a vivid picture of romance with his abstract lyrics. It may not be long until another steals his heart, as there are plenty of fish out there in the deep ‘Krule’ sea.
A tale of misery and loneliness filled with frustration and emotion, Marshall navigates through a world of suffering, but reaches some sense of resolution towards the end. A linear narrative, this record is a story of understanding hardship in pursuit of self-acceptance. “I guess I learned a lesson”, he gently affirms on “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)”. Whilst “La Lune” features far softer and consistent melodies, with merciful vocals, the end is noticeably less erratic and overwhelming than earlier tracks. The persistent rain present on both tracks could be a reference to ‘nature’s course’, and how hardship is a natural part of life.
‘The OOZ’ is a compelling, graphic representation of hardship, a desperate cry for help. Amidst its perplexing atmosphere is a realization that every dark tunnel has a light of hope, and those who survive its ‘oozing’ filth is rewarded.