On “I Sing Them”, the midpoint of Ty Segall’s newest release First Taste, he declares his artistic mission statement, “I sing my song so I am free/I sing my song and sound like me/You know that I don’t care. I’ll sing my songs though no one’s there”. The insanely prolific artist just keeps pumping out music so he can be himself in an ever-changing world.
First Taste arrives with a bit of a gimmick as Segall doesn’t touch a guitar for its entirety and neither does anyone else. Bouzouki, Koto, Piano, Bass, Recorder, Mandolin, Harmonizer, Electric Omnichord, Moog, Mouth Horn are what Segall plays around with this outing, but the sounds still get filtered with distortion, echoes and effects, blending into an overall cosmic groove. The record is not so much World Beat as it takes this new instrumentation and molds it into Segall’s fuzzy rock sound.
The true driving force on the record is the percussion work and drumming. Segall himself seems captivated by it as he plays drums on stereo left while Charles Moothart plays on the stereo right; this two-headed percussive beast is the heart of First Taste.
The longest and one of the best tracks “Self Esteem” is propelled by this rhythmic interchange as the players lock-in and motor. Metallic banging with dynamite percussion also color “The Fall” and more sludge metal influenced “I Worship The Dog”. “Ice Plant” begins with rattling before stripping away everything for layers of ooh and ahh vocals, displaying some of the prettiest singing of Segall’s career.
The combo of style, experimentation and beats works right from the opening “Taste” as dreamlike distortion seeps in before pounding drums, bass slides and a soaring backdrop pushes everything over the top. Closer “Lone Cowboys” throws everything but the kitchen sink into the mix as does the oddball space rock of the groovy “Whatever”.
There are moments when some editing may have tightened things up and Segall’s lyrics are opaque even at the best of times, but for an album built out of experimentation, it is surprising how well First Taste links together; and most of the credit for that success can be given to those killer drums.
While technically it has been a year and a half since Ty Segall’s excellent career highpoint Freedom’s Goblin, Segall hasn’t exactly been taking it easy, releasing or being a part of at least 6 records, ranging from covers albums to live releases (Fudge Sandwich, Joy, Orange Rainbows, Deforming Lobes, The C.I.A., Pre Strike Sweep). Odds are there are more ready to be rolled out as well; Segall continues to blaze his own sonic path.