I checked the mail when I got back from tour and found a package from Already Dead Records. It was an album called “Waffle Frolic” by a band known as Comfort Food. So I popped the tape into my van, and I didn’t take it out for five days.
The promo materials had promised some free jazz, so of course I got all excited. It was quickly apparent, however, that Comfort Food’s jazz vibe was way more indebted to the beat. Now, groove-based jazz-influenced music can really suck if approached the wrong way. And people fuck up loop-dependent shit all the time, too. But all negativity and doubt aside, Comfort Food did it right.
After a brief intro with some out sounds, “Waffle Frolic” settles immediately into its predominate vibe. Drums lay a heavy groove, while individual elements are slowly introduced from the bottom up. This maximal minimalist approach succeeds because everything is no frills. Even at its most layered, the songs really breathe.
Though strongly rooted in rhythm, catchy-as-shit melodies rise from the percussive layers. Trumpet often takes a lead role, but guitar scratches and Latin percussion add a melodic feel as well. The best exponent of this is on the aptly named “The Happy Good-Time Fun Situation,” which kicks off with a joyous four note horn line. Mostly wordless vocal incantations fill out the sound, occasionally bringing to mind Liquid Liquid in its cadence.
It is well worth noting, even as some of the tunes rhythmically dip into many different cultural wells, that nothing ever feels exploitative or forced. Simply put, this is the sound of joy. That Comfort Food celebrates with such ease and enthusiasm is not only musically impressive, but contagiously inspirational.