I became familiar with altopalo about a year ago when I met their guitarist Mike Haldeman in a NYU philosophy course about existentialism and phenomenology. We share quite a few mutual musician friends, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed. In any case, altopalo are now real-deal NYC adults making inventive and artful music which defies genre categorizations, and “hahsnheads” is prime evidence of that. This track is the first we’ve heard of their debut LP noneofuscared which will be out in late 2015. Listen away.
The track begins with a sort of industrial whirling which fades out to expose a soulful solo-vocal part which is accentuated with slap delay and several layers of looping background vocals. Pleasantly titillating synth/guitar noises burble in the sonic horizon as the rhythm section and vocal loops establish an undeniably foot-thumpin’ and head-bobbin’ rhythm – dang, why don’t more bands make interesting sounds and rhythms like this? The chorus hook of the track is unexpectedly catchy, but also features a frantic rhythmic pulse which keeps it from sounding like z100 radio tunes. The weirdness of this track is infectious; it seeps into the darkest corners of my room and dances around my brain. It’s really delightful. I also love that altopalo doesn’t fuck with genre tags too heavily – if I wanted, I could label them with indie pop, experimental, maybe even some RnB and soul floating around in there. But altopalo sticks with “difficult listening” throughout its entire career, and by this point, I’m not sure I agree. This is wonderfully intuitive listening which rewards the listener for paying attention.