Ska-Ca-Doodle-Do – Universal Namespace

Universal Namespace

Ska-Ca-Doodle-Do is one of the multiple incarnations of the people behind Catastrophe Records. Little info is available about this band in particular, although it clearly bears the mark of Baron’s other projects on Catastrophe such as Kissing Contest. The musicality is subtle but precise, and relaxed production renders the intricate details of pop craftsmanship invisible to the casual listener. This intentional laid-back feel belies cautious and thorough songwriting, which stresses a holistic approach, where the vocals and lyrics fit together seamlessly, and the instruments are carefully arranged and mixed to support each-other and the vocals. Such a sonic hierarchy is somewhat unusual in modern indie-pop, with most bands opting instead for the power of a good hook, a memorable riff, or an anthemic chorus to override more fragile considerations.

“Universal Namespace” starts out with a synthesizer gently plucking out notes like a harp, a bass enters with a dub-like riff, while an almost imperceptible snare keeps time, almost as an after-thought. Hints of guitar frizzle to life, rippling with curtains of soft homogenous distortion, setting the stage for the entrance of a bright acoustic guitar, drum-kit, and electric bass. A piano amid rich backing vocals introduce the verse. A sense of inevitability creates a mood of hopeful melancholy, occasionally interrupted by noodling guitar and electronic noise that demarcate different sections of the song. Carefully enunciated and fluid vocals throughout bring attention to the understated but faintly ironic lyrics. Sung with a little more panache and swing, it wouldn’t be a stretch to fit the voice alongside many of the lesser known tenor crooners of the mid 1930s. An outro eventually emerges from this build-up, and the song concludes, dwindling down to its initial elements with uncanny symmetry. The development feels so natural that it is disconcerting to find that a full three and a half minutes have passed since you were last sitting in silence. The experience is sort of like the strange sense of disappointment one faces when expecting bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour, only to turn onto an efficient empty freeway.

Ska-Ca-Doodle-Do and friends create music which at first seems noisy and loose. In fact, the musical construction is economical, even graceful. Neither emotionally draining nor cool and austere, “Universal Namespace” delivers elegant yet subdued indie-pop worthy of download.