Chubby Wolf - Turkey Decoy (2011)

  • review
  • ambient
  • drone

Meta: I'm setting a goal here for myself: to write a single album review once a week. I'll be trying to grasp the essence of why I think a record is good, why it is bad and give it some artificial grade between 1 and 10. This is the first of many to come.

Today I'm reviewing Turkey Decoy https://www.discogs.com/Chubby-Wolf-Turkey-Decoy/release/3160017 by Danielle Baquet-Long, or as she's known on the record: Chubby Wolf. Turkey Decoy has been released on Digitalis Recordings back in 2011 and was her third full-length album which was released posthumously. Together with her husband Will Long she was part of Celer https://www.discogs.com/artist/619076-Celer, which is still putting out music as a solo project. Will is the one who's currently managing her discography. Sadly, as you might read between the lines, Danielle is no longer alive as she has passed away at the age of 26 due to heart failure.

'Turkey Decoy' is not an easy to grasp, feel-good album. It's an ambient, drone, soundscaping record sounding much like the output of Celer, which I know for albums like 'I, Anatomy' https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/i-anatomy and 'Discourses Of The Withered' https://celer.bandcamp.com/album/discourses-of-the-withered. It's deeply dreary and melancholic at times, but also hopeful and peaceful sounding depending on my mood. For a record with such minimal melodic variation, it's layered very dense. This is because the music contains a lot of different types of instrumentation: electric guitar, electronics, bells, theremin, whistling, tambourines, samplers, piano's and even toy piano's. When listening to it really carefully and intently, one can hear these instruments being played through the layers of textures. Sometimes the additional instrumentation is obviously present, like the opening track 'Cantankerous Baby'. On that particular track, the bells are being played, sounding much like an improvised take on something Lino Capra Vaccina could have made. Also the spoken word sample used in the intro of 'Sushi On A Hot Day' comes to mind of which I'm still not entirely sure what is being sampled and actually what she's saying ("I wish somebody would spray on me with 'talcinpotty'?"). But other times it's a little more subtle, like the use of the tambourines or the toy piano's. The tracks vary in length: some pieces last 2 minutes ("Cruel Sausage, Gentle Fingers") while others last for a good 10 minutes ("Rattling Mandibles"). The latter being an absolute favorite of mine. "Rattling Mandibles" https://chubbywolf.bandcamp.com/track/rattling-mandibles almost sounds like floating - a bit how I would think it would sound if one were to drift off earth and into the infinity of space. The subtle and gentle melody, the tambourine rattling, the overtones, all of it. I'm always unaware that I'm 10 minutes down the line, until I'm snapping out of it's meditative grasp. Other lovely tracks I enjoy on this album are 'Birthday Suit' and 'Scalloped Toes'.

On the flip side the music to me can become quite blurry and out-of-focus, which is especially happening in the beginning of the second half of this album. Tracks like "Prescient Inspiration" and "If There's An Elephant In The Room, Introduce It" feel a little repetitive and sound similar with tracks on the first half. Another thing which is not that great at times, is the recording quality. Because of the heavy layering, you need to truly listen to it. Because of that and because melodically nothing much is going on, I find that it can easily - due to the recording quality - become much like background noise. Another problem I have with this record is that it sometimes really bums me out and rubs me the wrong way. I find it very soothing and especially during train rides (which I almost make everyday due to my job) - I can very easily doze off. But at other times it feels to heavy at heart and I need something a little cheerier.

All in all, Turkey Decoy by Chubby Wolf is a decent ambient record. It contains some really good, soothing recordings and "Rattling Mandibles" is easily one of my favorite tracks of this record. It really zones me out. Other tracks are less engulfing, but still fine. The bad thing overall, is that it can become a little to boring at times and a touch to heavy on the soul. [6.6/10]

Published on: Jan 06, 2018 by Gerard - list of changes