Sam Chown is one half of the duo Zorch, but with him making music as Shmu, fans are going to discover additional aspects of his already developed sound. Perhaps fans will say “I already knew this was in him, I was just waiting for the rest of the world to get it.”
Chown’s debut album as Shmu is called Discipline/Communication (Grand Theft Zamboni), and as a musician/singer/songwriter who is self-contained, he has no one to blame but himself, but I also have to blame him for making a damn good set of songs. As I’m listening to this, it reminds me of the kind of music one might hear in a surf movie or video, or in that sub-genre known as “stoner surf”. Some songs like “Happiness” is acoustic with a drum machine going on, so it’s lo-fi electro funk that may or may not have been recorded over a Dan Fogelberg 8-track over. Then you have stuff that is very indie rock-friendly, and a few minutes later, there’s a bit of electronica/IDM. I’m thinking how cool this is to come from one person, and that he can easily create something that has a California vibe while other songs have the feel of a California basement with the stench of discarded burritos and ass. Then in a track like “&hearts” (free download), he samples himself and chops if off, as if he agreed for Jan Jelinek or BVDUB to remix his work.
In a twisted way, this is not too far from the first Foo Fighters album, which was Dave Grohl playing everything because he could. Here, Shmu puts together these sounds that can fit any and all moods, so if you want something abstract like a BBC library album from Delia Derbyshire (listen to “Floatin’ Oculus” for the reference), you can have that. If you want some alterna- rock madness, you have “Dangerous Passion“. If you like your music varied, going anywhere and everywhere (sometimes all at once), Discipline/Communication is your album.