Obsessively Detailed: The Kick Drum on J Roddy’s ‘Black Light’

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Obsessively Detailed is a new column where I go at length about the trivially minute details that make me unreasonably excited while listening.

I’m writing about the song “Black Light” from J Roddy Walston & the Business’ Essential Tremors (who, by the way, I also mentioned in the previous Quick Hits). But more specifically, I’m talking about a single sound. The first thing you hear in the track.  The song itself is a sultry, T. Rex groove with a falsetto vocal pitched somewhere between preening glam and a Prince come-on.   The vocals carry the song, but it’s anchored by the plodding kick drum.  You can hear the sound die at the spot, no reverberation, no echo.  Just a dry kick, like someone walked in and played a drum set that’s been sitting in a cave for the past 100 years, you can hear the dust being disturbed, the sound hits the walls but instead of bouncing off it gets eaten up.  It’s like dropping a watermelon on a 12 inch-thick slab of mozzarella cheese, like throwing a baseball against a wall of melted silly putty.  No bounce, no transfer of momentum, just a collision, a sound, and a cessation of all motion.  It’s a small detail, sure, but it’s a treat.

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