Archy Marshall has a pretty extensive output under various aliases. A New Place 2 Drown is the first released under his own name. It’s an impressively multi-media release - coming with a 208-page art book and a documentary. The project was, for the most part, co-authored with his brother Jack. It’s really a family affair born out of their southeast London upbringing.
Though undeniably sharing a similar aural (and tonal) register to his King Krule output, A New Place 2 Drown marks a break from 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. We still have Marshall’s slurring baritone drawling over the tracks, and catch glimpses of astutely cynical lyricism, but this is a project juggling way more diversified generic influences.
Track transitions are satisfyingly smooth, in such a way that the album insists on being received in its entirety. It is a coherent piece unperturbed by the need for obvious singles. In this sense A New Place 2 Drown feels as if it shouldn’t and couldn’t have a precursive EP; the sudden announcement and subsequently speedy release (alongside the artbook and documentary) indicate its wholeness, or rather, the self-containment of the album. We are supposed to take this as a wholly separate endeavour.
In a way this is seems to be a protective measure, an apologist move to King Krule fans, who have been eagerly been awaiting a new release for over two years (an obscenely long time in the current climate of churned-out output). The distancing is useful though, and ultimately more productive. Marshall draws on his vast pool of influences more freely and the result is a much more interesting sound than King Krule. Hip-hop and rap bubbles to the surface of this gloopy dreamy offering.
Throughout, glitchy synths and murmuring background noise cut through and echo under the general spacey chill-wave. At times it feels reminiscent of Micachu’s Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill mixtape (particularly in its tight, yet DIY bedroom-feel production). Then there are tracks like Swell that wouldn’t feel too alien on a Majestic Casual type playlist, which undermine the Micachu comparison. Parts of A New Place 2 Drown feel like they are resting a little too heavily on palatable, lazy tropes. Yet, tracks like Ammi Ammi again confront this. Marshall’s bluesy vocals float over a quietly hip-hop bassline, the mid-section is grin-inducing with its stoner hook “we just smoke at let days roll back”, its note progression oddly reminiscent of early 00s R&B.
Where A New Place 2 Drown triumphs are in the moments that Marshall fuses his wide reaching aural influences. It means the album is interesting, layered and has a wider scope of appeal. From this I can imagine dream collaborations that his King Krule output wouldn’t have jolted. Of his peers across the Altantic, something with WikiFlag (of RatKing) could be really exciting.
It feels ambitious. It sounds rich. And while I can’t quite place it, I would thoroughly recommend listening to its gloomy splendour. It’s turgid, but, like, good turgid.