Every once in a while, I feel compelled to share my thoughts about music, rather than art... but only when I truly believe the music is a work of art in itself. Last year at about this time, I couldn't help rhapsodizing about how Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the musical equivalent of the art I love – emotional, symbolic, surreal, arcane, enigmatic, disturbing, passionate, evocative.
Believe it or not, I think today's musical selection – Bike for Three's More Heart Than Brains – is on a par with that peerless album. Bike for Three is a collaboration between Nova Scotian hick-hop beat poet Rich Terfry a.k.a. Buck 65 and Belgian producer and ambient auteur Joëlle Phuong Minh Lê a.k.a. Greetings from Tuskan. Together these two musicians – who live on separate continents and have never met in person – have brewed an intoxicating evocation of loves both real and imaginary, requited and out of reach, joyful and anguished, all held together with a tightly woven web of rhythm and rhyme.
The legendary songwriter Leonard Cohen once said, "I think that songs are primarily for courting, for finding your mate – for deep things. For summoning love, for healing broken nights, and for the central accompaniment to life's tasks. Which is no mean or small thing." I can think of no better expression than those words – "for summoning love, for healing broken nights" – to describe the emotional landscape this album explores. It literally resonates with passion and urgency and spiritual longing.
Bike for Three sounds like nothing else – it's Buck 65's first electronic recording, and by far the prettiest, most intoxicating rap album I've ever heard. Joëlle incorporates an array of raw sounds – music boxes and glass, xylophones and flutes, pots and pans – into her sonic toolbox, building a shimmering arrangement around Rich's distinctive flow, elevating his melancholy stream-of-consciousness tales of loves lost and found to new heights of poignancy and beauty. You want to burrow into it – to turn out the lights, pull on the headphones, and let it transport you into that state of longing that is so akin to heartache that it actually hurts a little.
All you have to do to find your way into this magnificent soundscape is click here and listen to "All There Is To Say About Love."
"Dragonflies and the agonizing blast from a gun.
Under a magnifying glass in the sun.
You ran fast and you won. It takes time to heal a wing.
A hundred-year-old photograph doesn't feel a thing.
Tracked courses. The parable lacked sources.
Unbearable first memories of terrible black horses.
Question the funeral procession and the pageant.
The home we chose versus the one that we imagined..."
On May 26th, Bike for Three will release their debut album, More Heart Than Brains. I've been waiting for it with great anticipation for two years, ever since the first few amazing tracks were released on MySpace. I've listened to those early tracks – "All There Is To Say About Love," "First Embrace" and "Lazarus Phenomenon" – hundreds of times, and have never tired of them.
More Heart Than Brains is being released on Anticon, which released Buck 65's brilliant Man Overboard in 2001, and I hope the fabled indie-rap label will be able to help it find the audience it deserves. (Everyone I know will be getting one for Christmas.) Also, if you're a Buck 65 enthusiast and haven't downloaded your free Dirtbike, do so immediately – it's three hours of rough-and-ready old-school Buck 65 goodness.