In the context of their records, a Dead Rider song comes on like a flick through the Internet’s endless stream of links: the ideas may not be connected, and you may not understand what you’re looking at—and, hell, it may scare the shit out of you—but you at least know that there’s a trail there, that a certain path brought you here.
Not so for singles. And if the video for “The Ideal,” from their forthcoming Drag City opus Crew Licks, is any indication, the Chicago-based group are well aware of it, and of the power inherent in that kind of confusion. The song appears nearly halfway through the video, finally tapping in after two-plus minutes of intermittent squeals and drones that soundtrack a nefarious mad-laboratory scene that reads a bit like Walter White’s underground lair as imagined by “Dope Show”–era Marilyn Manson. The beat drops, but it drops the way an armful of oranges drop: with a logic that almost has more to do with physics than meter.
The song itself is built the same way. Drummer Matt Espy (no relation to the awards show) breaks his rhythm, while steel drums batter around, falling in gaps between Espy’s kit. Former US Maple guitarist Todd Rittmann sputters, gasps, spits his lines—“dark flavors to taste,” “cry baby / don’t cry”—and eventually doubles up into a cocooned, processed version of himself. No two sounds seems to trigger at the same time, but, in a truly strange simulacrum of the Internet, it holds together all the same, carried along by force of its own personality. It’s not always pretty, but damned if you can’t turn away. Check it out below.
Crew Licks is out 9/22 via Drag City.