Global Goon

Vatican Nitez

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Four years is a pretty long time to wait, considering that Global Goon's material is mostly surface-level escapism, like a seductive soundtrack to an odd dream. The melodies are simple and the whole thing is barely 40 minutes long, but Vatican Nitez is a richly rewarding album in spite of itself. The shivering weirdness and gelatinous themes are admittedly a bit disorienting at times, but it's through repeated listens that an equilibrium is uncovered. Much of the album has a twisted beauty to it -- a curious irreverence that plays with the ear while flirting with nursery-school monsters, a sound that's both unfamiliar and harmless, like attending a dance club for melancholy protozoa. Johnny Hawk builds slightly on the modest instrumentation of 1998's Cradle of History, but avoids the mid-album sag by upholding a tighter and more melodic song structure. As before, he lays out pouting keyboard leads that whine and sigh over mid-tempo grooves, chugging along like lounge music for the year 2081. At times he mirrors the material of Rephlex peers Bochum Welt, Cylob, and label co-founder Richard D. James in his more melodic moods. "Jerky Dharma" bulges at the seams of distortion in quintessential Goon-dom, a clunky box of beats with a candy-flavored lullaby draped over the top. Elsewhere, "Kreem Ballet" sets a groove, leans the time signature on its side, and works a psychedelic keyboard solo into the stratosphere. It's perhaps the most "sincere" piece on the album, followed by the brief and meditative afterthought, "Ray Krebs Drives a Car." Further along, "Scott Cronce Is the CEO" is a four-minute epic, an anthem to bring up the house lights for the finale, and "Globy Dubes, Champeen of All Americky" is sloppy, comforting, and funky, with hyperactive synth tremors threatening to overthrow the modest tempo nailed to the floor. Through head-scratching song titles and loose flapping rhythms, Global Goon's mostly distinctive voice fills a niche that soothes cautiously, without being too complex. Hawk's material is not essential, but it's certainly addictive, like sweet blobs of musical taffy that exhaust the jaw while you reach for more.

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