Tag Cloud's latest single, "Big Room," begins somewhat innocuously. The penultimate track on his forthcoming LP, Gnarly, it opens with Justin Mayfield's languid croon ambling across bossa nova instrumentals. But in less than a minute, that straightforward riff begins a transformation into something that defies categorization.
Perhaps better known for his membership in Brooklyn four-piece Sheen Marina, Mayfield's solo work reflects his comfort with genre-bending composition. "Big Room" is a song that seems to deconstruct itself, beginning with a low-entropy groove that gradually spins off its various components into minimalist reprises. That bossa nova opener soon becomes a collection of angular, staccato guitars and drums; shortly after, the bass (by Rance Mohammed), synths, and vocals work their way back into the picture, this time unadorned and somehow intangibly ominous.
The track winds down and eventually closes with an almost absentminded guitar melody, accompanied first by Mayfield's distant vocals and then, at the end, a wistful muted trumpet performed by Kai Sandoval. With this final farewell, "Big Room" asserts itself not just as an eclectic piece, but as one that skirts the borders between genres. Rather than picking and choosing disparate elements in some kind of collage, Mayfield has found the points of unity between sounds as diverse as jazz and bedroom indie rock.
Tag Cloud is a project that's willing to experiment, but Mayfield does so with the sophistication of an experienced artist. Gnarly promises to be an album that's as cerebral as it is irresistibly groovy.