CLT Recommends: N A T T Y M A R I

May 17, 2011

I rarely dedicate an entire post to single artist but when I do, I mean it, maaaan. I’ve spent some time and several hundred words expounding on the virtues of Rraaiillss’ new wave of classic altrock. I’ve spent a few hundred more pushing Whitey’s incredible blend of electro-rock and caustic lyrics. And now I’m here to push another worthy artist straight down your earholes.


Nattymari is an unusual beast. With a name copped from ultra-weird import hit “Katamari Damacy” and combined with a reggae descriptor, Nattymari both covers up his blacker-than-black productions and tips a cap towards his dub progenitors. His pitch-shifted blend of corrupted noise is built on the back of the following monstrosities (from the man himself):

“The clippy sounds of lo-bitrate mp3s,the buzz of blown speakers, cassette hiss and warble, the sound of a tape with a bend, where you hear the other side backwards for a few moments…”

There’s no term in existence for what Nattymari does. It’s not dubstep. It’s not industrial. And while he frequently rubs shoulders compilation-wise with plenty of witch house/drag artists, he’s not really that either.

For starters, he revels in the “artifacts of the medium.” You can hear the tape loop fuckery of Chrome and Throbbing Gristle ricocheting around the soundscape, slipping off the spindle now and then with a burst of Chipmunk speed or getting hung up in the gears and grinding to a halt.

Then there’s the pitched-down James Earl Jones-on-Quaaludes vocals as pioneered by the late, great DJ Screw, whose prolific productions warped the minds of a whole generation of southern hip hop fans, reclaiming dime-a-dozen braggadocio and turning it into a hellish incantation led by the most cocksure demons to walk the planet.

There’s more in there as well. Bursts of static destroy what came before them and alter everything that follows. Tinny, overdriven drum patterns drill fractal landscapes into the murky tar pit bubbling malevolently below it. Vocals elongate and compress randomly, often submerging entirely before clamoring to the surface, gasping for air desperately.

Nattymari – Pri$3 749.mp3

By this point, you’ve probably decided how this sits with you. By any stretch of the imagination, it’s not really what the uninitiated would call “music.” It certainly doesn’t present any sort of easily approachable front. It edges very close to antagonistic several times. But that’s where the genius lies.

This is music destroyed and rebuilt without a manual. This is the sum of the parts laid end to end and reformatted one by one. This is what creativity sounds like: the complete removal of waypoints in order to forge a new path.

There’s beauty in it as well. It’s often obscured and rarely left untroubled for more than few moments, but it’s there nonetheless. Take a listen to IIEVOL.

Nattymari – IIEVOL.mp3

The vocals are as troubled as they are troubling, like a villain left to die, his humanity reduced to a streak of tears and a pool of blood. Haunting snippets of Venice canal accordion emerge, along with a brief bit of nearly unaltered vocals, all of it awash in palpable sadness. And just as the pain subsides, the track morphs into a miniature tonepoem built on downed power lines and decayed radio signals.

The beauty is nothing without the juxtaposed destruction.

And there are moments where Nattymari, despite having every damaging tool at his disposal, surprises with something approaching hummable, like N477Y L1GH7.

Nattymari – N477Y L1GH7.mp3

There’s a stark simplicity in the buildup, an approachable beat that runs for nearly 40 seconds with a minimum of interference. (Although there’s just enough noisemaking to let you know that this is unmistakably Nattymari.) Once the whole thing kicks in, the screwed-down vocals glide effortlessly over the loops, occasionally slipping forward and backward as dictated by the fiend at the controls.

Sometimes nothing succeeds like restraint. In a perfect world, this could at least climb into the lower half of the Top 40, too “weird” to top the charts but catchy enough to pluck it from obscurity.

Look, I can’t sell you on Nattymari’s music. You’ll love it or you’ll hate it, but there’s no way you’re walking away completely unaffected. The greatest artists out there are the most divisive. I won’t drown him in oppressive comparisons and start tossing around names of the all-time great sonic abusers. It serves no purpose. Nattymari can get by on his own merits and name-dropping only draws attention away from his singular sound.

If you’d like get smacked around by some lurching, ramshackle death machines, follow these links:








  1. Only thing I feel I should mention is that 95% of my work is remix based. Also… I consider YouTube my primary outlet, 100+ tracks there in dirty lofi glory:


    • I’ve added that link to the post. Check that one out, kids. 122 videos. No waiting.

      And remix or no, you’re cranking out some highly creative work. I don’t buy the whole “remix=derivative” argument for a second, especially when it results in tracks as transformative as these are. Your body of work is incredible.

  2. Well I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either! It sounds like rap slowed down, in a psychedelic manner. To me, there’s no such thing as a rap song, just a rap. Because a song must have melody, and rap has no melody (except in the background). But is rap “music”? This is a question I’ve pondered a long time. Blondie’s “Rapture”, which was the first rap that went mainstream, is partially a song, and is arguably music–because there is melody in Deborah Harry’s singing, and melody in the instrumentation in the background to her rapping. But from there, in time, rap moves more and more from song to spoken word–until it has no melody, other than the background music. And though the background instrumentation is music, the spoken word takes such precedence that it practically replaces the music. And this, combined with the violent, racist, sexist, antisocial words of today’s rap, is what makes it so intolerable to so many listeners, including me. Did mainstream rap of the late 70’s and early 80’s qualify as music, and even singing? To some extent yes. But it doesn’t anymore. Back in the early 90’s, I went into a music store, and asked a salesgirl to direct me to the most popular rap, at that time–I was curious. So she introduced me to The Digital Underground. And I bought their latest album. But after listening to it entirely, I threw it out. Seemed like all the rappers did was bash M.C. Hammer (apparently because they wanted to one-up on him). They called him a nigger, and in fact used the term, “nigger”, over and over again, in the most vicious way. Mainstream rap used to be fun, clever, cool, even hilarious. Then it got ugly, and it’s uglier now than ever before. What in the hell happened, with rap?

    • I think most rap artists would agree with you. They don’t do “songs.” They rap. They don’t sing. (Well, most don’t regularly, although a lot of them have tried.)

      But as to whether it’s music? Of course, it’s music. Melody is not the only delineating factor of music. Rock and roll had a lot of non-musical claims hurled against it in the early days. “Not music.” “No talent.” Every new form of music generally takes a lot of heat before it moves into the mainstream.

      The same rock musicians who were disparaged as not being “musical” often hurled the first stones against punk rock. Critics have also attacked industrial music, techno, ambient and (yes) rap for not being music.

      And yes, rap focuses on the vocals. Generally speaking, there are a ton more lyrics in your average rap track then there are in a rock song of the same length. So it makes sense that these are moved to the front.

      So while I’m agreeing with your take on this, I’m really not agreeing with the underlying theme. Rap is music. But rap may not sound like music to you. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong. Music, like any other art form, is highly subjective.

      As to what the hell happened to rap: it got popular. And as it gained mainstream acceptance, it changed, much like anything other musical form. What sells is drugs, violence and sex. It sells in rap just as much as it sells everywhere else. That’s not ever going to change, but no other music form has taken so many people for a vicarious ride the way rap does.

      But as these aspects have become the focal point, the quality and intricacy of the rapping has vastly improved from the simplistic aabb/abab rap patterns of hip hop’s beginning. As ugly and misogynistic as it can be, there’s a whole lot of creativity underneath that unapproachable (to some) surface.

      To me, rap’s main problem is the unimaginative beats, which rarely do the wordplay justice. A quality mashup or remix usually gets me on the same page, musically speaking.

      You can love it or hate it, but you can’t really deny that it’s music. It may not be catchy or melodious enough for your ears, but it’s already staked its claim in that end of the artistic spectrum.

  3. Wonder what it sounds like in normal speed.

  4. Berman:

    if you wish check this out:

    similar techniques but I utilized sped up samples instead of slowed up. the beat itself was still dropped down a few semitones, but the rest was sped up at least 10…..

    DAF [N477Y]

    • Well, I take back everything I said about “less interesting.” That was all kinds of kick ass.

  5. Well, I love it and I’ll be damned if this wasn’t another fine selection of Nattymari. I think I figured out why this particular brand of music conjures of memories of amusement parks. I love(d) getting jostled and jolted while experiencing the feeling of weightless on a pendulum ride and being thrust to and fro (preferably into a muscled body). And when it’s all over I want to get right back in line. I also enjoy the thrill of auditory g-forces so characteristic of a Nattymari selection. There is a bewitchingly macabre element to his music and I tend to mini-mourn when the song ends. I’m simply not ready to toss my cotton candy cone and last few tickets and drive home. I came here for an all day (and late into the night) affair and it is ending much too soon.

    I’m tardy to the post again and realized why through a circuitous route. My youngest daughter has a shit-load of formspring questions…some quite excellent. One of her followers asked her if she has a formula for answering. Her reply: “I have no formula for answering formspring questions. Sometimes if it’s a really good question, I’ll be overwhelmed by how much ‘answer potential’ it has and let it sit in my inbox to avoid the effort it will take to address. Consequently, it gets buried by 50 other formspring questions and I forget it ever existed.”

    I don’t forget the post existed…like her I just sit on it knowing it is so good it will demand my full attention. Capitalist, what a pleasure it is to read your work and to listen to Nattymari’s music and how you so artfully weave the two together. You would make Christopher Hitchens proud. In your veins course ink. This post was frickin’ brilliant on so many levels. I’ve got to get back in line now for another go-around.

    • Your descriptive um… description of Nattymari’s lurching, possibly discombobulating musical style gets the point across in several hundred fewer words than mine did. Kudos.

      And I totally get the “I’m going to have to sit on this one for awhile” response/no response reaction. I’ve had quite a few of those comments here at the blog. Sometimes the perfect response presents itself and other times what I respond with hardly does the comment justice.

      I figured you’d be in sooner or later, though. Nattymari’s got your number just like he’s got mine. Thanks for the compliments and for listening. I’ll pass along your description to NM. I’m sure he’ll dig it.

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