HYLIDAE “Intransitive” C29 (Dismal Niche)

John Burkhart must have a thing for frogs, because that’s what hylidae is, the family name of tree frogs. I’m getting scientific on you here, I know, but before I lose you completely—and I know I’m about to because I can tell you’re looking at this review and thinking to yourself, “This jerk just Googled ‘hylidae’ and is just regurgitating Wikipedia at me!,” and you’d be right—you should know that there’s a lot to like here, and you should stick around. Why, you ask? Just tell me already, you scream? OK, OK, there’s not a whole lot I can do with your fingers wrapped around my throat. Chill.

Now that I can breathe (but dude, those bruises are going to be visible on my neck for a while, thanks a lot), what do you think of when you think of tree frogs? Cute little guys, wicked colors, rainforests, etc., am I right? Now, what do you think about when you’re listening to Intransitive by John Burkhart’s Hylidae project? Bingo! Cute little tree frogs, wicked colors, rainforests, etc. Well, you will now, because I’ve told you to. Actually, it’s a little bit deeper than that – sure Hylidae is nothing if not fun in some way, but the mood and tone move up and down the natural scale, both in daylight and under night skies, soaked in rain and dry under canopies. It’s electronic at its core, and almost pop in its execution, but whether it’s steeped in dub or disco, Intransitive is a heck of a ride. And colorful. Just like tree frogs. See, I’m bringing that back around again, because I like beating dead horses. Metaphorically, of course.

At times ranging from what sounds like Dylan Ettinger on a good day—one of those days after the Hoosiers dominated the Vols on both ends of the court (holla!) —to Animal Collective gettin’ their DFA on, John Burkhart has made some of the most pleasing music put to tape. Ever. Did I say “ever”? I meant “in recent memory.” Or at least, he’s made a pretty cool tape, one for which I’m having a tough time hitting the eject button. “You Don’t Say” and “Eulogy” are the downtempo, close-to-the-earth beatscapes that announce the passing of Hylidae, and “Lens Reshaping,” “NTHE,” and “Unwound” are the glorious pop moments where the sun peeks through and everything ripples with natural beauty. It’s ecstatic, and makes me want to dance in the rainforest, just like chorus line of actual hylidae I’m imagining right now. Yeah, I’ll join them, why not. It’s a good day!

--Ryan Masteller