What am I supposed to do? I am attracted to guys who are built like chicks and I am into bands who sound like Animal Collective; so obviously I am into Nico Haag who is guilty on both counts.
And just because he has a slender frame, it doesn’t mean he isn’t manly. He is. He very much is.
And just because the music of his project bleeklino sounds a little like Animal Collective, it doesn’t mean it is derivative. It’s not. It’s strange and unique and beautiful. It doesn’t attempt to bury itself in feedback squeals and unlistenable off-beat drums and off kilter rhymes. This music comes from that tradition, but longs to be beautiful. It is meditative, trippy, and echoey and feels like it belongs in a cut scene from some sweeping and beautiful video game that makes itself more real than anything in your measly little life.
I think the coolest thing about Haag’s songwriting and lyric writing is the commitment. Haag sings earnestly about philosophical concepts, conversations he’s had, and slightly atypical sex acts and he does so in non-euphamistic terms that are not typically employed when discussing these topics in song (or anywhere else for that matter).
Take “Feeling Missed” for example.
It starts with some pretty typical lover talk: “I wanna touch your face / I wanna feel your skin…” then ramps up a bit with a, “Can we get naked all the time,” and finally just goes for it when Haag announces, “I wanna fuck you from behind / I want you to touch my dick / I want you to suck my dick…”
From there is gets really crazy. But it all comes across as quite sweet and tender, believe it or not.
“It’s Christmas Time” is another example.
It starts with a couplet akin to a joke:
“It’s Christmas time and I’m really horny / All the time, but tonight more so than normally.”
Later he says:
There is nothing we would be scared to say or do
We could get naked and touch each other where we take a poo
I mean it’s not even what I’m into
But I’d do it with you if you wanted me to…
It’s the kind of next-level fantasy you have where you imagine yourself with someone who won’t judge you for all your weird twistedness, and not only are they cool with yours [insert DFW ref.], but they are also willing to reveal their own weird fetishes and proclivities to you, which are even stranger than your own fantasies, so you get to be cool with their weird fantasy. Which is hot.
There is a lack of shame here that only someone who is young and beautiful is allowed to have, but by describing it all so eloquently he lets us old, ugly, troll people in on it too. He describes these sex acts as if he were describing something as innocent and beautiful as folding someone an origami rose. And then somehow it becomes that innocent. Two people alone on Christmas, chasing each other around a studio apartment, half undressed, washing each others’ hair, painting each others’ nails, and licking each others’ genitals… When he describes it it makes you wonder why we don’t describe sex that way in our every day lives.
It would be like this:
Dude you work with, (whose name is, like, Hank or Stan or something): What did you do this weekend?
You: I saw Fantastic Four. You?
Dude you work with: Oh, not much. my wife and I were actually about to go see that, but we got into a little bit of analingus and some role play instead.
You: Cool. Did you ever get to the movies?
Dude you work with: No. Maybe we’ll see it next week?
You: Don’t bother. Stick with the rimjob.
I don’t know much about this cat. Haag’s pictures sometimes make him look like James Franco when he is trying to look unattractive, (you know, movie unattractive. Bad sweater, facial hair, no 5 o’clock shadow, acting like he gives a fuck, like at all…)
and other times make him look like James Dean, except skinny.
He has a penchant for audio acuity with his many collaborations with DJs and sound engineers who put his sound underwater, in echo chambers and under layers and layers of masks and gates that still can’t keep his spare and bold guitar strokes from muscling their way through.
Sometimes it all gets a little too far out there and a little pseudo-intellectual, like on “Closed eyes,” but it’s all tongue-in-cheek enough to get a pass until the next strange, beautiful tune comes floating by. And that is how I like to listen to this music. Without paying attention to where the records are supposed to begin or end, to what the song titles are. It’s nice to be surprised by a nice harmony here, a cool digital effect there.
As trippy and drugged out as it all is, tunes like “scuba diving in your living room” can’t help but make you think about spring, blossoms fighting their way to the light, rain coating everything, libidos unleashed upon the world. And that’s a good thing. The world can’t keep going if it doesn’t have those things and music can’t going unless it has people like Nico Haag making sexy little nursery rhymes with a glitchy drum sample, a worn out acoustic guitar, and a cut off t-shirt.
I guess he is working on a record right now, but the good news is his songs work even if they have a bit of polish.