The time has come for the Dirtybird brethren. Claude VonStroke has released his fourth studio album, Freaks & Beaks, on Dirtybird Records. The 11-track offering comes a full seven years after the label head dropped off a proper studio album, 2013’s Urban Animal. VonStroke announced the project just a month ago, followed by a bevy of 2020 show announcements for Dirtybird’s 15th anniversary year-long celebration. What really got fans crooning for the LP’s arrival, though, was a bombastic Essential Mix where the Dirtybird helmer delivered a whopping five unreleased tracks from the album.
Whacky, offbeat, adventurous, funky, and eccentric, Freak & Beaks delivers on every front. The LP’s writ-large sound scape is marked by laser beam aesthetics, wonky, bubbly basslines to boot, off-kilter sound design, and spacey vibes. Five never-before heard tracks arrive on the new project. The LP’s first track, “Warming Up The Bass Machines 2,” is an absolute stand-out with heavy reverb action and spaced-out synths. It’s also the sequel to the first track on his debut album.
Then there’s something new and different at every corner: From the experimental tones of “Frankie Goes To Bollywood” and the break beat tempos of “These Notes In This Order,” to the progressive progressions of “Alpine Arplane” and the clubby 4×4 beats on the 12-minute voicemail message compilation, “Birthday Messages.” What Claude VonStroke is trying to get back to on his fourth studio album is Dirtybird’s experimental roots.
“It’s like record shopping in San Francisco just before Dirtybird started,” VonStroke said to Forbes. “I listened to a lot of really strange German [music], like the label Playhouse that doesn’t exist anymore, like fun, funky records. All of us were just trying to put our head around what we were trying to get to sonically. And these are all of the formative years of the start of Dirtybird, and I did make [this album] like that original creative vibe.”
Before he pioneered Dirtybird Records, VonStoke was hosting impromptu parties with Justin Martin, Christian Martin, and Worthy—all of whom have foundational releases on the imprint. They were all looking to craft “ultra creative new concepts” that was a step away from the pretentious “slick-produced West Coast house” that was dominating the scene in the mid-2000s. Fifteen years later and the label’s sound is firmly grounded in gritty, funky bass house. Although VonStroke says his intention with the new album is to try and lead the charge to get Dirtybird’s next chapter moving into a new and even weirder direction.