Published Sep 30, 2015Dralms is Vancouver's Christopher Smith, a producer who, prior to Shook, had released some singer/songwriter tunes under his proper name. Shook is nothing like the former.
Highly experimental, prominently bass-driven, at times noisy and expansive, the only commonality between the two is the wispy quality of Smith's airy voice. Quirks, like Smith's little "whoop" at the beginning of "Usage" (his voice oddly takes on a somewhat Caribbean accent in the chorus) or the cheek pop at the end of "Objects of Affection" keep things light, while unexpected instrument choices like the harmonica intro of "Shook" or the sultry saxophone and slightly cheesy chimes in "Objects of Affection" keep things interesting. It's hard to know where exactly Dralms sits on the musical genre spectrum; just when you think it fits somewhere, a subtle bongo backbeat appears in a song and changes everything.
Shook is highly mood-driven, as most of the songs feel quite hazy and take on an almost seductive quality thanks to Smith's lyricism. At times this can be a little trying, with songs like "Gang of Pricks" teetering on the line between atmospheric and repetitive, but it's not a trend.
The peak here is album closer "Crushed Pleats," which shares bass melody similarities and intensity with "Divisions of Labour," but ends this predominantly soft record with a cacophonous bang. It starts with a smooth bass line that slowly builds up to the booming second half of the song, with organs, synths and the repeatedly sung mantra of "Ain't I a lucky boy, trembling wretch, insufferable joy." (Boompa)