For a garbage eating mutant as adventurous Gobby (we hope you’re doing well in Providence but you’ll always be Boston’s finest), the construct of genre is less about what hip hop/techno/noise/you-name-it is supposed to sound like than what can be done with it. In his hands (read: webbed digits) reference and idiom are as breakable as gear, as hackable as software; few experimental artists bear their points of departure as openly while managing to take their listeners places they’ve never been. For going on a decade, Gobby has patiently pursued this vision, his ethic as much the spiritual descendent of Monk and Merzbow as Madlib and Dilla.
So what do you once you’ve done everything and where do you go once you’ve been everywhere? “Romance Frog” offers some interesting answers. As the lead track from Gobby’s forthcoming cassette No Mercy Bad Poet, it’s a bold introduction to the audience its DFA backed release will certainly bring him. Executed like a chamber suite, it simultaneously balances excess and restraint; brief movements run the gamut of feel and tempo, and yet the themes are built out of strikingly understated parts. “Lush” has not typically been the first word to come to mind when describing Gobby’s more lo-fi and frenetic work, but squint and you can almost see the Bad Poet’s shadows dancing to Harmonia.
What begs to be reckoned with more than anything is the emergence of Gobby the Crooner, who treats us to more than a few verses of aggressively autotuned vocals; who knew the master of loops could skate and glide so melodically? Whether “Romance Frog” is an indication of the album’s sound as a whole or a total curveball, it stands tall as a fully accomplished artistic statement. Gobby’s doing what few attempt and fewer achieve: building a language from scratch. For the rest of us, the chance to learn is a gift.