REVIEW: Art Feynman - Near Negative

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Laura Kerry

Luke Temple has a knack for reinvention. As the founder of Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic, he forged a path through five albums varying from intricate folk ditties to a dense fog of hazy pop and psychedelic synths with an increasing dose of krautrock. Temple picks up that last thread in his latest reinvention as Art Feynman, the name under which he released the full-length Blast Off Through The Wicker last July. Now, only half a year later, Temple has returned with a new EP, Near Negative, that both cements and expands the Art Feynman sound.

The process of reinvention hasn’t stopped with Temple’s new project, though. Throughout Near Negative, the artist continues to explore new sonic territory, shifting tones and sonic palettes while managing to achieve cohesion. In the opener, “Shelter,” which showcases the krautrock influence most prominently of any song on the EP, he sings an ominous melody over a tightly wound motorik beat, accenting the rigid repetition with a light touch of drone and the punctuated rise of “shelter” at the end of the chorus. By the second song, “I’ll Get Your Money,” Temple eases up a little, this time counterbalancing the low, driving forces of percussion and bass with a warm guitar line pulled from West African music. In the middle of the album, “My Tuke” offers a reflective, languid interlude without vocals, before “Love You Even More” picks up a bouncing bass line and tender, catchy melody that highlights Temple’s nimble voice and romantic side. In “Monday Give Me Monday,” Art Feynman returns to the vibrant guitar swirls of West African rock, before ending on the quiet but psychedelic “Asia’s Way.”

While most of the songs on Near Negative sound precise, propelled by the relentless rhythms of drums and bass, much of the joy in listening to the EP comes from Temple’s willingness—and ability—to subtly break the mold (a product, at least in part, of the fact that the artist constructs his songs on a four-track tape recorder, and not programmatically). Some of that mold-breaking emerges in the tonal variations between tracks; some of it manifests in more self-contained moments. It’s in the weird, scat-like vocals in the final stretch of “Shelter,” or the last ecstatic cry of the refrain that ends in a voice crack in the same song; the exuberant guitar solo at the end of “Monday Give Me Monday,” which whirls, surges, descends, buzzes, and pops for the better part of the track’s latter half; and the nervous density at the center of “I’ll Get Your Money.”

With his new EP, Temple has provided a satisfying amount of material to chew on—or, as is more appropriate for his wide-ranging breed of psychedelia, carry you into a daze as your head gently nods to the beat. It's possible you'll still be in that state by the time Art Feynman's next invention rolls around.