Comfort Food – Waffle Frolic
3.30.16 by Scott Scholz
Chicago’s Comfort Food has been laying down their heavy jazz/rock/tribal/math jams for a few years now, but their latest tape for Already Dead, “Waffle Frolic,” is a whole new party power-up for your ears. Their previous tape, “Dr. Faizan’s Feel-Good Brain Pills,” displayed an admirable kind of gutbucket rock/jazz blend with some serious swagger in tunes like “Dem Grapes,” but look: ain’t no Frolic like a Waffle Frolic, ‘cause a Waffle Frolic don’t stop.
“Waffle Frolic” most closely reminds me of the first pair of Sex Mob albums, or Joey Baron’s “Raised Pleasure Dot,” mega-fun jams from the 90’s that found some seriously next-level players laying back, focusing on sloppy-but-sexy grooves and the occasional “bad note contest,” rediscovering the pleasures of jagged edges, weird forms, and other perfect imperfections. Those are some of my all time favorite albums for their total commitment to fun within a genre that was increasingly self-serious. But Sex Mob and Barondown were all-live lineups that could go wherever the music took them. What makes Comfort Food especially remarkable in comparison is their existence as a simple duo, with Daniel Wolff layering his work on bass, trumpet and vocals with clever looping strategies, while Jake Marshall finds the perfect beats to keep building these jams toward the sky. Where most loop-based music can’t help but feel a little subdued in terms of groove, these two have unlocked the mystery to using loops while still making music that feels confident and unrestrained.
My favorite tune here is opener “They Got Minivans,” a funky jazz riff piece with the perfect buildup of trumpet and bass grooves that keeps nudging toward an out-of-control frenzy, tempered by the perfect amount of compositional patience. But there are more rock/tribal-fueled pieces like “The Happy Good-Time Fun Situation” or “Tear Down Those Silos” on the B side that are just as satisfying in their rituals of abandon and release. And this is also a beautifully recorded album that alternates between reverb spaces and in-your-face dry mixes with thoughtful attention to compositional density. This is one of those “gateway” tapes perfect for getting your less-adventurous friends further into weirdo jams, with plenty of tight rhythms and riffs to hang onto while you slide toward bizarre vocals and samples and ecstatic noise.
Don’t be alarmed by that dried syrup coagulated on your chin when you return to your senses the next morning. These are grooves worth leaving in your beard for a while, even if you can’t grow a beard. Pick ‘em up from Already Dead while you still can.