Andrew Kaffer doesn’t care much for the limitations of genres. They’re confining and rarely allow for the kind of wild musical escapism that he so obviously adores and obsesses over. The Oregon musician has spent a good deal of his time recently (really the last 20 years) performing in Kissing Book, an indie-pop band hailing from Portland. But there were times when Kaffer’s creativity would take him in a direction far removed from the pop effervescence of Kissing Book and down weirder avenues of rhythmic experimentation.
His forthcoming record, Head Band, has been working it way through Kaffer’s subconscious for over 10 years and was recorded with producer Dustin Reske at his home studio in Portland. Bridging the various histories of Reske’s band Rocketship and Kaffer’s own Kissing Book and Stuffed Shirts, the album finds them exploring a strange collection of pop abysses and cross-genre peaks in an effort to reconcile the countless influences warring for supremacy in their heads. Due out July 4, it develops and maintains a skewed and thoroughly unique perspective on modern music and its deeply rooted attachments to the internal movements of various rhythmic lineages.
On his latest single, “Wha’s the Use in Stallin’?”, he creates a malleable pop-R&B atmosphere where dueling falsettos circle around one another, inextricably bound within the same vein of musical elasticity, anxious to see how far they can stretch their boundaries before they snap. Bubbling beats and wobbly synths cascade out in vivid ripples, crafting instantly memorable and insanely catchy melodies that are basically impossible to remove from your brain. Coming across as some mutant-pop instigator, he deftly adapts and rewires these sounds into an aberrant and audacious wonderland of mysterious tones and textures.
The track doesn’t sound like anything else he’s done before in his other bands; it’s a feral amalgam of dozens of inspirations that are just begging to be creatively molded and dismantled, and Kaffer is all too happy to oblige them. Kaffer has said that Reske and he worked from a mantra of “fuck the rules” when assembling the songs on Head Band, and “Wha’s the Use in Stallin’?” is the realization of this no-fucks-given attitude toward musical creation and interpretation. It’s a brilliant fusion of aesthetics that borrows melodic elements from a handful of genres but is conceived as a singular and utterly compelling musical ideology.