It’s a surreal dancefloor odyssey, featuring galloping percussion, flying guitars, theremin outbursts of the ‘woo-woo’ variety, and a choir of angels singing glorious nonsense at the top of their lungs. The lyrics, performed spoken-word style by a cast of intriguing strangers, describe a blonde in a bathtub talking about a white horse… or is it the horse in the bathtub? Either way, it’s weirdo disco of the highest order, in the tradition of Was (Not Was), Material, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, The Avalanches and Basement Jaxx.
Stream “Top Horse” on Soundcloud.
The sound might be New York, but Top Horse is actually from Valletta, via Berlin. It’s one of a suite of new songs written by Ducks! during a residency at Malta’s premier contemporary art space, Blitz, in June last year. Ducks! spent four weeks in Valletta making field recordings, experimenting with musique concrete techniques, hosting electronic music workshops and collaborating with the city’s creative community. In fact, the mysterious voices heard on Top Horse are the result of a workshop hosted by Ducks! at Blitz, using loop pedals and electronic processes combined with the poetic technique of Gertrude Stein to explore rhythm and repetition in poetry. The result is a cross between Stein’s salon circa 1929 and a night out at Danceteria in 1981, modernist poetry meets mindless party for a night to remember, or forget.
Ducks! are singer-songwriter Lani Bagley and ARIA award-winning producer Craig Schuftan. The Berlin-based Australians released their debut album ‘Ding Ding Ding’ in 2016, which was long-listed for the AMP (Australian Music Prize) later that year. This was followed up by the release of ‘Nak Nak’ in 2017. Since forming in 2014 Ducks! have made soundscapes for art exhibitions and art-world memoirs, mini-musical accompaniments for standup comedy shows, and soundtracked BBC Radio 4’s ‘Not a People Person’ featuring Sam Simmons.