8/10 Brian Staff review, 14 April 2011
Who the hell IS this Woman? I really enjoyed bits of her last record and was especially impressed by the accompanying DVD which gave the general public a revealing glimpse into her innovative recording, looping & layering techniques. Accompanied by just one fellow equipment manipulator she sculpted an astonishingly vibrant sound-world from old junk shop equipment, curious musical ephemera & effects pedals. I thought she could quite easily be Micachu's even madder Auntie. On this new one she's still being hugely creative with some thrilling, chunky percussive breaks serving as a backdrop for what sounds like a right old jungle of technicolour skewed pop & eccentric world music. Like other respected female sound collagists such as Leila & Solex, she makes densely layered tunes full of fascinating spiraling, cascading samples & colliding, chattering loops. She don't really "do digital", thank God!! It all sounds really warm & organic as she's one for sampling herself playing live and then building the songs around these loops, triggering off magical effects at will. Her voice can get a bit hectic at times, like she's bellowing from the main stage at Womad (I involuntarily cringe at her big soul Mama schtick on some of these songs, like a lady version of the chap from Little Barrie or summat but with a greater vocal range. I must admit she has a right set of lungs on her, bless!!) So this is a "cleaner" sounding effort than the last but no less interesting or lovingly constructed. Respect must be leveled at Nate Brenner, her new bass player & co-songwriter. His down-at-heel chatty playing provides a solid, gently funky backbone for these songs to excitedly dance around. The first truly satisfying record i've heard on 4AD for some time, she'd get a 5 if she toned down that yelling a tad.....
10/10 John Bloor Customer review, 20th June 2012
So, this is Merril Garbus’s second album as Tune-Yards. By the way, I refuse to write the name in the daft mixed case manner. Being aware of her African influenced vocal and beats style of her first album I was very interested to hear this new release.
My first impression of “WHOKILL” was of hip-hop style beats, jerky, stumbling, tripping forward with Merril’s distinctive vocals. But, I think it is fair to say, I very rapidly realised the massive creativity of the album was in the process of bearing down upon my ears – it was not an album I had to work at in the slightest but one which grabbed me instantly and just kept ramming the ideas down my canals until I was propelled along with the music .
The melodic bass, with voice echoing the rhythm in that African style gives it such a distinct feeling yet it is not this which makes the album such a stand-out piece of brilliance.
There is something else – the cut down, broken down sparseness of it all. The way the sounds move, instruments and voices passing one melody thread to another such that the fluidity of the song is unbroken, such that it flows along like a stream defining its own course as it goes.
It builds and skips as it goes, and I go tumbling along with it, the individual parts twisting and turning, flowing around multiple routes and catching up again giving a wonderful sense of the whole piece.
One of the best albums this year for me, I highly recommend it.
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