Professor Murder

Professor Murder Rides the Subway EP

(Kanine; 2006)

By Mark Abraham | 28 August 2006

Professor Murder’s four members flipping instruments (no guitar) between them over the course of an EP shorter than Pink Floyd’s “Dogs” results in Rides The Subway. Complicit with post-punk in the Yeah Yeah Trench Liars sense with a little Fire Theft thrown in for fun, the band has no inhibitions about dropping samples, well-honed hip hop flourishes, synth squirrels, and the entirely a cappella “Pedigree” into the mix. This isn’t a Vek retread, however; Professor Murder is pared down, sparse, and ESGing its way to victory.

“The Mountain” evolves over one of the most captivating basslines of the year, as high hat disco skirmishes and cowbell accents shuffle overtop and beneath. Overtop a harmonica-ish melody reminds of the Go! Team while the vocals are run through a filter that extends them over the frantic mid-section. The song ends with a Don Preston atonal key-blast, the perfect unmelodious end to a song entirely about melody. “Free Stress Test” sounds even more like ESG, its stilted bass fumbling under the open-hat swirls. Here a wave-synth is alternately played sweetly and manipulated in between lyrical sections; a bongo enters during he second verse, heavy toms after the clear-cut vocal break. The song ends over shimmering reed organ chords and a lovingly simple lead melody.

“Camron’s New Color (Part 3)” rips pages from the T.Rex playbook, but also sounds Strokes-ish (or, hell, Kinks-ish) enough to front some woozily-lit music program. The band wants you to stand up and get “down-de-down-down.” Before your spine aches, though, check the thoroughly prog-Collins drum riff before the messy synth solo, or the way the snare re-enters under that filtered synth before the words are delivered over drums alone: “there’s a great big pressure that’s been pushing down.” The lyrics are infantile all over the EP, but when they clutch such great melodies, who will complain?

The EP starts with “Champion,” where I think he’s saying “champion / knees up / splash.” If the song really is about cannonball competitions, then the brilliant percussion/bass breakdown in the middle must be everybody getting wet. Why wait for the splash though? Dive in—it will only take you fifteen pleasant minutes to dry off. Let’s hope that the full-length can maintain this sort of brilliance.