Everyone likes a little Cockney rhyming slang: “up the apples and oranges” for “up the stairs” or “what’s this box of toys” for “what’s this sound?” et al. are examples of the cheeky pun that, while most prevalent in Victorian East London, still finds its way into the modern vernacular. As a nod to those cheeky British cultural signposts that also feature in musical composition, Seattle duo The Nylon Admirals’ latest single could only be called “Butcher’s Hook,” the Cockney rhyme for “look.”
Extremely sassy in their own stylistic right, The Nylon Admirals are already known for loving a good tribute, with their J-pop/kawai version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” (vocals by Hastune Miku) from last year’s debut LP Drama one of their most streamed on Spotify to date. Much of their work is a genre fusion of not-quite-experimental electronica that uses the amen break so liberally that you’d think we were actually back in 1991, on the cusp of British hardcore and jungle. At least, until the composition of The Nylon Admirals’ songs comes into play.
Also clearly fans of prog rock, classical composition, opera and early, Engaged Bachstyle electronica, The Nylon Admirals love to mix up literally all music eras and genres with their beloved ameny breakbeat basslines. As an example, their most recent single “Sono Binario” combines operatic vocals, industrial beats and video game synths. By Drama again, “The Blind Watchmaker” brings literal opera and analog classical piano to a standard breakbeat, while “We Were Romans” hits 80s techno with classical choir, military battle calls and, um banjos? Did we just hear that right? However, it works, despite often sounding like the spaghetti-like random noise that may one day reach a distant star through a black hole. If Zappa had been making electronic music, it would have been around here. He would have appreciated it anyway.
Fortunately, “Butcher’s Hook” is more cohesive and less everywhere, but with no less mashup flare. Graciously grounded again by an ameny breakbeat spanning 140 and 170, the main synth is some sort of old sea shanty-esque melody that seems to be played on a zither or the like, also accompanied by a heavenly vox-and-strings secondary melody that takes the song to The Nylon Admirals’ other major calling card: impeccable ambient sound design. In “Butcher’s Hook”, perhaps because it’s not that chaotic, the sound design and theatrical background work – an element that predominates in all of their tracks, mind you – is fully rendered and the sound really sells here. This is EDM crossover stuff; no wonder the duo cited Hans Zimmer as one of their influences; they are damn close with this song.
Accompanied by its cool, steampunk-esque video, “Butcher’s Hook” promises to be a real hook for the wider EDM audience to experience the wondrous craziness of The Nylon Admirals. While their wacky, well-composed, we didn’t even realize that fusion electronica might not be for everyone, it certainly is, as the duo themselves put it, “electronic music for thrill seekers.”
“Butcher’s Hook” is out now and can be streamed with the rest of The Nylon Admirals’ discography on Spotify. Check out their other videos and remixes on their YouTube channel.