A recent discography of the New York scene reads a lot like a family tree with—for all its success—a surprisingly small gene pool. Labels beget bands; bands beget duos; duos beget solo projects, with plenty of cuckolded bedfellows and illegitimate offspring for good measure. Somewhere near the centre of all this is an outstretched Justin Vandervolgen: Out Hud, !!! and TBD are generations past and present, adeptly executed re-edits and mixes the bastard children. But for all the collaboration and trimmings, Vandervolgen had yet to fly the nest solo, ensuring anticipation for his first artist EP—the 10th in Golf Channel's aloof but impressive history—was suitably feverish.
Confounding any expectations of label homogeneity, or indeed of his own apparent disco-rock sympathies, Justin Vandervolgen shows an admirable level of not giving a shit by getting his hands dirty with trance (think Perry & Rhodan, not Paul van Dyk) here. Far from being an experiment in irony, though, "Clapping Song" is distinctly unpretentious and aims squarely at the corporal, rather than mental, effects of hypnotism. Trippy synths, metronomic hats and, inevitably, lots of clapping are lambasted together in a track that deliberately goes nowhere but round in circles. I haven't heard it in a club yet—and I'm sure half the intended purpose is lost on me here at home—but it's easy to let your imagination take you there.
On the flip side, "Sheeboyah" opens with more of a familiar swing and is generally less breakneck all round, but, as the onomatopoeia of the title suggests, it's no less forthright in function. This time, however, the pocket-watch in pendulum takes the shape of swelling pads and arpeggios, while a two-note bass line summons eyes to gaze into as the body takes control. In and around this hazy oblivion, Justin Vandervolgen has created a record destined for a specific time and place. I'm yet to find either, but I shall look forward to when I do.
Buy Justin Vandervolgen - Clapping Song / Sheebooyah at
Tracklist: Justin Vandervolgen - Clapping Song / Sheebooyah A Clapping Song