Everyone loves a bit of Cockney rhyming slang: “up the apples and pears” for “up the stairs” or “what’s this box of toys” for “what’s this noise?” et al. are examples of the cheeky wordplay which, though most prevalent in Victorian East London, still snakes its way into the modern vernacular. As a nod to those cheeky UK cultural signposts also contained in its musical composition, Seattle duo The Nylon Admirals’ newest single could only be called “Butcher’s Hook,” the Cockney rhyme for “look.”
Extremely cheeky in their own stylistic right, The Nylon Admirals are already known to love a good homage, with their J-pop/kawai take on Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” (vocals by Hastune Miku) off last year’s debut LP Drama being one of their most-streamed on Spotify to-date. Indeed much of their work is a genre-melding spitfire of not-quite-experimental electronica that utilizes the amen break so liberally you’d think we were actually back in 1991 at the cusp of UK hardcore and jungle. That is, until the composition of The Nylon Admirals’ tracks comes into focus.
Also clearly fans of prog rock, classical composition, opera and early, Switched-on Bach-style electronica, The Nylon Admirals like to mash up literally all music eras and genres with their much-loved ameny breakbeat basslines. As an example, their most recent “Sono Binario” single combines operatic vocals, industrial beats and video game synths. From Drama again, “The Blind Watchmaker” brings in literal opera and analog classical piano to a standard breakbeat while “We Were Romans” samples 80s techno stings with classical choir, military battle calls and, um banjos? Did we just hear that right? It works, however, despite often sounding like the spaghettified random noise that may one day reach a distant star via a black hole. If Zappa had made electronic music, it would have been close to this. At the very least, he would have appreciated it.
“Butcher’s Hook” is mercifully more cohesive and less all over the place, but with no less mashup flare. Again mercifully grounded by an ameny breakbeat that sort of straddles 140 and 170, the main synth is sort of an old sea shanty-style melody that seems to be played on a zither or similar, also accompanied by a celestial vox-and-strings secondary melody that takes the track into The Nylon Admirals’ other important calling card: flawless ambient sound design. In “Butcher’s Hook,” perhaps because of it not being quite so chaotic, the sound design and theatrical background work – an element that is prevalent in all their tracks, mind you – is on full display and really sells the sound here. This is EDM crossover stuff; no wonder the duo named Hans Zimmer as one of their influences; they’re damn close with this track.
Accompanied by its cool, steampunk-styled video, “Butcher’s Hook” promises to be an actual hook for the larger EDM audience to experience the wonderful weirdness that is The Nylon Admirals. While their wacky, well-composed, we-didn’t-even-know-that-could-be-fusion fusion electronica may not be for everyone, it’s definitely, as the duo themselves say, “electronic music for thrill-seekers.”