Music Premiere: Cal Maro

By Shirley Griffith

April 8, 2016

The newest project from singer/songwriter/producer Tyler Brown, Cal Maro, is not a band to be sleeping on right now. Brown has steadily released songs off the new self-titled album, including a beautiful music video for “Down.” The album is being released on all digital formats on April 8 through Brooklyn’s Yung Wolf Productions. The beauty of that slow and steady dripping, like calculated inhales and soft exhales of rhythm, seems to direct Cal Maro’s songs. They’re impressively smooth without any sense of bravado. It’s music you don’t want to turn off because the moment a song starts playing, it creates its own space in time. The shimmering strength of pacing throughout the album is as natural as a sunrise; no rushing, only an experience of patience and form. Some of the songs like “Water” and “Blame” seem to travel through slow motion, re-living themselves in a timeless stretch. Album opener “Water” is a slow percolation of clicks and beats over a disfigured watery bass pool. The distorted, far-away opening vocals of “Primitive” feel like a visceral ancestral calling that Brown has managed to capture and release through echoes.

When writing a character’s formation in literature, “dynamic” means to change while “static” means to stay the same. In “Fall” Brown has cleverly created a dynamic sound by using a growing static distortion. The chaotic static develops then cascades, dramatic to stagnant, in an attempt to mirror the saying: the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. “Coco” is an enchanting encounter of a painted Gil Scott Heron-esque soundscape. The vocals are moodily hollow and collapse within their own weighted sound adding a sophisticated endearment to the simplistic beat.

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The album is intimate and sultry thanks to Brown’s love of R&B and undresses itself in that same naturally slow breathing manner mentioned before. For instance, “Habit” incorporates an angelic string of gospel underneath romantic Frank Ocean croons. The songs are lithe, sinuous, and deeply-rooted so that they never lose their sturdy foundation.

The low-key groove against the overall dark palette of the album proves Brown finds creative significance in the deepest cracks, which he is then able to brighten and hold up for us in the light of day. The one-word titles and earthy, no-fuss music itself reflect a less-is-more theory leaving the majority of the meaning up to interpretation. It’s an inlaid appreciation for the listener when the artist doesn’t have to hold a listener’s hands throughout the purpose of each song. As Bukowski says, “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”

Cal Maro’s debut show will be held at Petra’s on April 22 with DJ Scott Weaver, Rapper Shane, Astrea Corp, and Asheville’s RBTS WIN.

Tracklist
1. Water
2. Primitive
3. Habit
4. Fall
5. Ready
6. Down
7. Leah
8. Coco
9. Blame
10. The Gate

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