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King Krule No More, Meet Archy Marshall on 'A New Place 2 Drown'

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Zoo Kid, DJ JD Sports, Edgar the Beatmaker, King Krule – all pseudonyms of one Archy Ivan Marshall, who chose to spurn his most recent moniker (King Krule) in exchange for his given name on his most recent release, A New Place 2 Drown.

Before delving into Marshall’s most recent, eponymous effort, it may serve to understand the journey that culminated with ANP2D. A peculiar character, Marshall grew up in a divided working class home in Peckham, England. Marshall attests that he was subjected to “a lot of weird shit during his [childhood].” The combination of divorced parents, “weird shit,” and sleepless nights spent listening to Pixies and the Libertines eventually inspired Marshall to create these “soundscapes.” 

In 2010, Marshall revealed himself to the world as Zoo Kid, with his beguiling baritone and doom jazz guitar riffs on the track “Out Getting Ribs.” Almost immediately, Marshall was (uninspiringly) heralded as an artist far beyond his years, with additional fuel coming under his new moniker, King Krule, and a similarly titled EP in 2011. Shortly thereafter, Marshall released his first official full-length record, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, in 2013 through XL. The album was met with critical acclaim, as well as lauded by Beyonce and Willow Smith (who covered “Easy Easy” in 2014), then Marshall (and King Krule) effectively disappeared, with the exception the occasional video here and there (“A Lizard State” in 2014).

Keeping with the disparate nature of his music, Marshall’s music and subsequent radio silence were unfamiliar, uncharted, and uncomfortable. Had early success frightened the divergent talent? Or was Marshall’s solitary and uncommunicative nature caused music media to purposefully ignore him?

All theories of Marshall’s activities and practices were ultimately laid to rest in late 2015, when Archy Marshall’s newest effort under his own name, A New Place 2 Drown was (fittingly) announced with little to no enthusiasm from Marshall himself, as well as the an accompanying media book and short film. News trickled out that not only had Marshall begun to explore new art forms, but he had done so with his brother no less, indicating that ANP2D was ultimately a collaborative effort.

In short, ANP2D is an endeavor unfamiliar to typical Archy Marshall/King Krule process – the focus is not necessarily on the music, but rather the literary companion. 208 pages long, the book features artwork, poems, and photographs curated by Marshall’s brother, Jack. Archy attests that the book “is a scrapbook of [his relationship with his brother] and how we see the world.” The film illuminates the aforementioned relationship between the two Marshalls, exploring their creative processes in a bleak slice of life, surrealist lens.

The multi media explorations in the mundane may be Marshall breaking new ground, but the 37 minutes of musical accompaniment is a continuation of King Krule. Marshall’s music has always explored the mundane and the desolate, in service of creating his previously mentioned soundscapes, which ANP2D certainly achieves. Marshall harnesses the lonesome nature of King Krule tracks past, and layers it atop the despondence that from 90’s hip hop.

ANP2D opens with “Any God of Yours,” an instrumental dirge that allows Marshall to impress his honed production growth upon the listener. The growth is a departure from 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, with Marshall altogether spurning the doom jazz/stark-hop sound of Krule for more pure hip-hop. Tracks like “Swell” and “Arise Dear Brother” are almost indiscernible at certain points when it comes to Marhsall’s lyrical presentation, though the mumbled delivery only heightens the soundscape immersion.

The cleanup track “Ammi Ammi” is a melodramatic expression of Marshall’s life in the dingy sides of town, with cool crooning from Jamie Isaac supplanting Marshall on the hooks. “Ammi Ammi” and “Buffed Sky” elevate ANP2D into more distinctive territory, giving glimmers of an overarching theme – something that was obfuscated in previous efforts.

ANP2D serves as the most direct platform of the multi-media myriad into Marshall’s personal exploration and subsequent growth over the past two years, vaguely referencing lessons learned (“Sex With Nobody”) and new production practices (the sleepy 808s on “Eye’s Drift” and “New Builds”), but at certain moments, Marshall gets lost in the soundscape mentality. Closing track “Thames Water” falls victim to the occasional cliché ("girl this place is evil") and some rather curious multi-layered vocal work, eventually segueing into an almost entirely new track. 

It would be a disservice to say that the music of ANP2D is an afterthought, though the accompanying book and short film may indicate that somewhere down the line music may take a back seat to Marshall’s artistic process. Luckily, A New Place 2 Drown offers enough of the genre bending familiarity of King Krule and the new working class grit and grind of Archy Marshall who finds beauty in the mundane, specifically the purposefully mundane work of his brother. ANP2D offers a glimpse into Marshall’s more contemporary perspective and creative outlook, which may prove to be more transcendent as Archy Marshall than King Krule could have ever been.