Duke Chevalier is an enigmatic California music project melding esoteric, spiritual influences with odd notes of funk, folk, hip-hop, and catchy riffs. The group, whose members do not broadcast their identities, is finally ready to debut their first release since ‘Hangin’ onto the Vision’ in March 2014. The five track EP, Ace of Swords is an alternately mellow and dance-worthy meditation on life today.
Ace of Swords is likely a reference to the Tarot card of the same name, as its cover is a recreation of the card from the Druid Craft Deck. The card can imply triumph, excess, conquest and great force, whether in love or hate, according to the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck handbook. But as with everything in the Tarot, it is up for interpretation. This ambiguity and esotericism fits neatly with the feel of the album.
The EP opens with swirling atmospheric echoes that coalesce into the jingling Afro-Caribbean beats of ‘Carneval,’ a dreamy track that melts into an interesting hodgepodge of instrumentation and vocals. The song sets the musing tone of the album where the instrumentation is somehow understood to be much more important than the lyrics, even for those of us who are gravitate towards words. It is followed by ‘Hanging onto the Vision,’ the biggest earworm in the EP. The song is catchy enough to make the listener want to dance and sway within the opening bars of music. The pretty song is the only single officially released. Listen to it below.
‘Something For Your Tired Eyes’ builds on Chevalier’s signature mixture of hooks and etherial atmospheric background sounds. In it, the Duke stretches his singing with the ragged chorus, repeating the title in vulnerable half-scream, half-belt. The album closes with ‘American Century,’ rising up from mellow melancholy to build manically with the words ‘I feel so much older now’, leaving the listener with a driving beat and a high note.
Ace of Swords is set to be released on April 16th. The album is available through Bandcamp for download or if you pre-order you could get one of the 100 exclusive pink and gold tapes of the EP with exclusive bonus tracks. Pick up your copy here.
Duke Chevalier will be holding a release party hosted by TUBE. for Ace of Swords on April 30th with Sunmonks and Scott Ferreter of Cove and Deep Pools at the Panama Art Factory. Doors open at 7 pm and the show will start at 8 pm. The cover is $8. The Panama Art Factory is located at 4421 24th St, Sacramento.
Words: K. Hules.