For a musician who doesn't primarily man the drumkit, Jon Ragel sure loves all things percussion. Everything the singer/DJ creates—from the orally consuming moniker of the musical vessel he solo pilots, to his commitment to obtaining and hoarding sampled drum sounds—orbits around drums. This rings exceedingly true on his latest, the explorative bedroom pop, or "hip-pop," if you will, collection entitled booomboxxx.
To ensure that every spare second of booomboxxx was gloriously devoted to its firm backbone of thumping drumkit beats, Ragel mined the bountiful resource of the Bridgetown Breaks compilations and assembled a wondrous collection of sampled percussion and borrowed beats. As Ragel's plaintive and direct voice propels his songs forward, he's backed by a bevy of sampled sounds from local drummers Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof), Kevin O'Connor (Talkdemonic), Kevin Robinson (Viva Voce), and more.
This firm allegiance to the drums works symbiotically with Ragel's role as a singing frontman who mans the decks of a turntable, a true curiosity in its own right. "I think it's rare for a turntablist to sing," explains Ragel. "It's an instrument that appeals to people that have traditionally been in the hiphop genre, but I'm surprised there isn't more of it." After a brief period when Boy Eats Drum Machine was a proper trio—primarily on last year's bouncy Two Ghosts—Ragel has once again stripped the band to its barren roots as a one-man act, even if this results in him refining his onstage persona in the process.
"When you have really good musicians with you and you're playing with them, it's really easy to rely on that energy that's being created," says Regal. "I've embraced more of the performance art aspect of it, which I've always wanted to do." This new outlook on performance saturates booomboxxx—especially on the grandiose opening title track and through Ragel's finest moment of offbeat percussion and contemplative lyrics, the gorgeous and sincere "la la la la LA!"—branding the album as both a tribute to Ragel's elaborate artistic vision, and as an unabashed and gushing love letter to all things percussion.