Exclusive Track Premiere: Netherlands, “Robot Fail”
Us Brooklyn folk have known about the glory of Timo Ellis’ psych-prog/spazz-punk outfit Netherlands for several years now. The unique band has played tons of hometown bro-shows as well as some pretty solid higher-profile gigs (including opening stints for Melt-Banana, Valient Thorr, and the recently reformed Black Flag), and tends to drop most jaws each time.
This is not your mama’s freakout power trio: we’re talkin’ bout guitar/vocals, drums, and synthbass here — the latter an instrument oft-employed in dance-core but underutilized in the hipsterati underground. And the inclusion of such a versatile tool certainly adds a whole new sonic layer — warble and bottom fuzz-lovers rejoice — although admittedly Ellis’ palette of guitar effects pedals surely accounts for a great deal (if not the majority) of the group’s sometimes unusual tones. And to see is to believe: several of the dude’s seemingly self-created pedals have duct tape slapped across the top with a single Sharpie-written word explaining their functions. I always wondered what a “JEW” pedal sounded like!
Ellis’ mighty resume includes collaborations with Yoko Ono, Melvins, John Zorn, Cibo Matto, Gibby Haynes, Ween, and more, but Netherlands is a project unto the man himself. During the band’s five-year existence there have been a regularly revolving cast of rhythm section contributors, but the current lineup (including drummer Dave Burnett and synthbass-ist Sam Levin) seems like it will stick, matching jumpsuits and all.
From the opening off-kilter syncopated riff of “Robot Fail,” you know this song is gonna rock. But the mood quickly shifts into a more delicate and deliberate vibe that brings a certain warmth and artistry to its memorable melodies and poetic lyrical content. And it only builds from there — dynamic peaks and valleys are effectively interspersed throughout, all the way until the heavy intro part returns as an ass-kicking bookend outro. And then, all of a sudden, the song is over and you’re reaching to play it again. And again. And again. And again…
Stream “Robot Fail” below. It will appear on Netherlands’ second album, Silicon Vapor, which comes out on October 29. Pre-order it here.