As the producer behind his own label, the rising EYRST, Neill Von Tally has a close creative relationship with his artists. With a hand in every pie that comes out of the increasingly busy EYRST oven, the cohesion between Von Tally and emcee The Last Artful, Dodgr is unlike any you’ve ever witnessed. And if you want to peer deep inside these complex minds, Bone Music is your x-ray machine.
Their first full-length collaboration together, this record is multisensory. Von Tally’s production is full of field recording—clips he took “from various work environments such as mining and construction, sounds from house parties, the ocean, rainy nights and crackles from fireplaces, the sounds of food being cooked,” he reveals.
And Dodgr’s narrative is immersive. There’s a supreme alignment of vision and the 11 tracks radiate intention. “Every word, ad lib, harmony, transition has its purpose,” Dodgr explains. “This is more of an audiobook than an album, meant to be heard straight through.”
Audiobook is an understatement. This story, one “of a blue-collar worker who is struggling through traditional relationships and labor-intensive work while seeking a way to rise above circumstances,” Von Tally explains, is blanketed in bleakly indelible rhythms and melodies. Lyrically and sonically, from front to back, Bone Music impacts your mind and body.
The sounds will change your temperature—cooling you down with its Cold War-inspired origins (watch the video for album opener "Caverns" below) yet racing with jazzy heat by the album’s closing cut (listen to "Jazz Crimes" below). You can smell metal and feel grit in your nostrils, sweat on your brow, muscles straining. You can taste potent liquor on your lips and feel your heartstrings being tugged.
Amazingly, what you hear on the record is just one level of Dodgr and Von Tally’s multilayered, multimedia experience. The sonic movie has actual videos coming as well as short screenplays that pair with each song (which you can find on Instagram @BoneMusicMultiverse). Guests vocalists like labelmate Myke Bogan and electronic siren Natasha Kmeto play specific characters in the narrative. You want to dig in? Have fun.
And while it’s enjoyable enough to allow the duo to transport you into the intricate world they have created, the fantasy is improbably relevant as a modern record. First, they’ve struck a balance between the elaborate scope of the project and a palatable pop sensibility required for single-driven music consumers—the aspect Von Tally is most proud of. As he points out, “This record tells a story with a beginning and end, but we also wanted some of the songs to be able to stand alone without the context of the entire record.”
Second, this concept record is now reverberating in the real world: The emcee and producer made a fictional record that’s so tangible and honest that it’s actually playing out in real life. “I wanted to pull from a pool of experiences that weren't all necessarily mine,” Dodgr starts. “However, in the process of trying to create a relatable album, I accidentally manifested some shit.”
“Long story short, if it isn't already true, it'll most likely come to fruition anyway. Learning to watch what I write,” Dodgr laughs.