Their ineffable presence notwithstanding, TV on the Radio are among the most unlikely -- and natural -- beneficiaries of the hype machine that has enveloped the Brooklyn musical renascence. Specializing in near-discordant melanges of free jazz, conventional indie rock, electronica, and avant-hip-hop, Tunde Adibimpe, Kyp Malone, Dave Sitek, and their merry men have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it is all music in the end, garnering approval from both elder statesmen (David Bowie guested on their remarkable breakthrough, Return to Cookie Mountain) and the masses (Dear Science peaked at #12 on Billboard) alike; Sitek's patented production style -- incorporating Enoesque filigree and just a tinge of that vituperative Myrtle Avenue funk -- has graced albums from artists as diverse as Scarlett Johannson, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and local sensation Telepathe, while dexterous drummer Jaleel Bunton just guested on the Phenomenal Handclap Band's debut LP and seems to have matured into a latter-day Al Jackson.
With so much talent suffused into the rhythm section alone, it's easy to lose sight of guitarist Kyp Malone's distinctive contributions. Just as the initial success of Roxy Music hinged upon the underlying tension between Bryan Ferry's penchant for 40s anachronisms and the aforementioned Eno's space-age flair, it is Malone that brings an imperious hunger, an inimitable falsetto, and improvisatory glee to the synths and automatonic loops of Sitek and Adibimpe. Without Malone, the band would be something along the lines of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's artier, contraries cousins (think Dig! all over again); with him, their genre-bending panache will be secure for years to come.
After nine years, Malone is poised to step into the spotlight next month with the self-titled debut of his his much anticipated solo project, Rain Machine. Not wanting to be disingenuous and misrepresent what will surely be sui generis, I will say that the advance single "Give Blood" -- streaming here -- is an intensely soulful effort that manages to recall Outkast, Captain Beefheart, Alex Chilton at his most feral, and John Lee Hooker over the course of three minutes. With a tremulous blues guitar riff that may as well be anathema to his hipster constituency, Malone isn't playing around here -- and there's no doubt that Rain Machine may be one of the year's finest albums. Be sure to add this one to your iPod.