Now I Feel It (Pytch Records)
By Mike Delano
When musicians use vocal distortion, it’s almost always a recipe for corny disaster, whether it’s the ubiquitous Auto-Tune robotizing the sound (and soul) of the Top 40, or a metal band approximating a demonic voice so it sounds like Satan himself is guesting on their latest lame song. When these tools are in the right hands, though, the results can be fascinating, allowing the artist to push their voice into new spaces it couldn’t reach otherwise (some of us need help — we can’t all be Mike Patton). Such is the case with Ryan Olcott on Now I Feel It, his debut album under the c.Kostra moniker. His heavily distorted vocals push, pull and mold these ten tracks into beautiful miniature soundscapes that sound fresh and innovative while still managing to be accessible and distinct. Olcott, who fronted the much-loved indie band 12 Rods, playfully pokes his robo-delivery in-between the bass and drums openings in “Heart to Heart,” creates a sort of indecipherable vocal glue to hold together the intermittent bursts throughout “Your Call” and even uses the digital equivalent of heavy breathing to create a percussive track on “We Sign.” The whole album has the vibe of the retro-yet-forward-facing electronic music that Daft Punk, Cassius and others were making circa 2000, best exemplified here by “Girls N Minneapolis,” a dreamy, lo-fi number that sounds way too warm to be referencing a place that’s probably below freezing right about now.