Review | Blarf - Cease and Desist
Blarf (totally not Eric André) could be trolling us, but manages to make the most bizarre album of 2019.
From having a hit show on Adult Swim, Eric André’s alter-ego Blarf hopes to emulate and transfer his cartoonish, out-there comedy to music on this sound collage. Although Eric and the label have denied his involvement with the project, it’s obvious Eric André is Blarf. He’s even on the cover dressed as a nightmare inducing, suicidal looking Ronald McDonald knockoff. Even if it didn’t have André’s name attached to this project, the name Blarf alone should be an indication that this is going to be a weird and unpredictable sit-through. This is a sample heavy sound collage, as it pulls a lot of sounds and ideas from a variety of multimedia outlets such as video games, films, music, stand-up comedy, interviews and more.
The profoundly-titled lead single ‘Badass Bullshit Benjamin Buttons Butthole Assassin’ (yes, it is called that) showcases how weird and bizarre this will be. It has a funky afro-beat with some terrifying slowed-down vocals, making it sound like a nightmare or a bad drug trip. The samples are plentiful, like the Super Mario Bros Level One music, and even an Obama impersonator soundbite weaved into the track. The harsh blend of these sounds makes the track sound if it was corrupted during its export but if you know Eric’s sense of humour and how dark, twisted and bizarre it can be, this song (if you can call it that) provides a perfect reflection of that. The use of Richard Pryor’s stand-up routine on how Jesus couldn’t save himself was used pretty effectively and will get a chuckle. The keyword throughout this will be ‘weird’, as the tracks and the music video attached to ‘BBBBBA’ are completely nonsensical and is hard to explain logic to something which has no logic in it, like a Lewis Carroll novel. It’s almost as if Eric has embraced his meme status and started making meme music, as it’s just as strange (if not stranger) than the memes which have come from his show ‘The Eric André Show’.
The longest track, ‘I Worship Satan’, is over 12 minutes long and sounds like something taken from Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’, only more hellish throughout most of its run time. The track eats up most of the album's duration time and, although it sounded interesting at first with its hellish soundscapes, and what sounds like ray guns from a '50s sci-fi movie such as ‘The Earth vs. The Flying Sorcerers', it drags for way too long. It is probably the only track worth skipping, as there’s not a lot of progression nor interesting samples until the very end. The juxtaposition is quite odd as everything else is short but packs in so much cacophonous mayhem it keeps your interest up. ‘I Worship Satan’ wears down very quickly and eventually outstays its welcome to become unlistenable at times. It ends on a cheery note with a sample taken from the theme from the children's TV show ‘Reading Rainbow’ which, with the hell we have just experienced, is very much welcomed.
The album manages to bounce back with the insane ‘Boom Ba’ which is next to ‘BBBBBA’ for being the weirdest track on the listing. It features Death Grips-inspired distorted bass, glitchy production, and samples from rap groups including Digable Planets and Public Enemy, and Eric places fart noises on beat with the rapping. Much like the album itself, the progression is a loose cannon as it starts with this hard-hitting beat which compliments the Public Enemy ‘Shut em’ Down’ sample, to glitchy production with a jazzy, ragtime piano to help transition this change. Like ‘BBBBBA’ it also ends on a sample from a comedy routine, this time it’s from a Patton Oswalt stand-up about how he doesn’t understand why working class people like George Bush as he hates poor people.
‘Banana’ is the most straightforward track on the list, at least for the most part. It has some scatted vocals over a jazzy, funky rhythm section of piano, trumpets and flutes. The sections sound like they were sampled from a cheap 1970’s detective TV show. Of course the overall theme of weirdness has to continue with a man (possibly Eric) sobbing for an uncomfortable 30 seconds. It’s most likely reflecting the listeners having a breakdown whilst shouting: “What is this album!? What is happening!?”
‘Like That’, ‘I Dunno’ and ‘Hella Rhymes’ all roll into one as they only play to serve as short interludes to the monster track that is ‘I Worship Satan’. ‘Like That’ features these street-styled drums playing throughout the track, ending with a sample from the man himself, Eric André, saying: “my next musical guest is...” ‘I Dunno’ features a heavily distorted bass, cymbals and an indistinct female voice. Lastly, ‘Hella Rhymes’ provides as the most explosive out of the three which samples Busta Rhymes' ‘Don’t Touch Me’ turned up to 11 with loud synths and drums, which completely washes out Busta's sampled vocals.
This can be a mixed experience for anyone curious enough to listen. Some people will love the experimental, eccentric meme nature and sound this album has to offer. On the flipside of this, many people may hate it and think it’s senseless, pointless and a complete mess. The biggest Achilles heel of this record will be the replayability of it, relying heavily on unpredictability and randomness which made it an engaging listen the first time round. Although it is rich with a large array of samples, after the second or third time, some of the material loses its edge and becomes skippable. No matter how people view this record, for better or for worse, it certainly is memorable.
Best Song: Badass Bullshit Benjamin Buttons Butthole Assassin
Worst Song: I Worship Satan