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Friday, February 6, 2015

Corey Dargel, OK, It's Not OK

The music of Corey Dargel has such an unusual combination of lyrics, song melody and contrapuntal instrumental accompaniment that it to me occupies a place totally unique. I refer to the Corey Dargel of the album OK, It's Not OK (New Amsterdam). Here we have a collection of 14 songs Dargel composed and sung. They are, for a lack of a term, extraordinarily dysfunctional love songs.

The music includes Dargel's synths and drum machine. (I would have prefered actual drums myself, but I know, that is the fashion.) He is joined by four backing musicians on violin, electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, and additional keys.

The music is sung alt rock style without vibrato, definitely not in the operatic category in sound, and that suits the music well. This is art song however, with a poetics in the lyrics and substance in the music. The instrumental parts contain a good number of ostinatos and so there is a minimalist component. Yet they are not the guiding structural element of the music, but rather a post-modern diatonic major melodic feel that can be more or less through-composed on top of ostinatos or winding its way without repetition. The vocal melodies float atop the accompaniment and have no repetitive relation to any ostinatos that may crop up.

There is a sort of pop-rock-alternative feel that conjoins with the new music postmodernism for a most unusual hybrid. Corey's plaintive voice sings almost cheerful melodies yet there is deep sadness and descriptions of a very alienated mindset, in part because the singer is trying to make it work with a partner who is in some ways just not there for him. "Your anti-depressants make you feel good when you hold my hand," he sings. "Seems like suicide is your only friend. Well, that and your violin," goes another line.

Is this jarring combination of lyric diatonics and people who cannot cope akin to the age we live in, where pharmacological products take the edge off of what is a desperate state of mind? Is this the malaise of our time? I don't know about that, but it could be.

The odd conglomerate in Dargel's music is stunning, whatever relation it has to statistical density. And in the end this is very personal music, describing in detail a "happy" defeatist despair that determines to smile but deep inside is as miserable as the unresponsive partner sung about.

The music is totally original, hauntingly tender and lyrical yet very bleak. It has enough classical-modern poise that I placed the review on this site. This is not really pop. It is too involved.

Dargel gives us some breakthrough music that you definitely need to hear. A landmark in its very own way.

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