Zack Schwartz, one of the brilliant minds behind Philly experimental alternative act SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, is back again with lord of the shithouse via his side project draag me, joined by fellow SOTB member Corey Wichlin. The new album comes three years after his last two full-length releases, and it’s safe to say the project’s sound has evolved and coalesced into something far more cohesive. Still, it never strays away from Schwartz’s penchant for unconventional choices and genre-bending production styles.

As explicitly stated by the duo, draag me is “for after-hours internet wormholes, bus rides at night.” I can attest to this, as even while listening midday, this sentiment holds true. From the very beginning of this new record, it is clear that it was mixed very methodically, with a deliberate attention to detail that adds a lot of brightness to an otherwise gloomy body of work.

Opening track “like a nuisance” immediately stands out, with shades of SOTB in its sample-heavy nature while also evoking a certain danceability that isn’t often seen from Schwartz in other projects. Yet, just as in any draag me record, the track is completely rerouted, with CRASHprez’s nonchalantly commanding voice leading the way into a breakdown of sorts, chock full of distorted samples and mangled effects. It’s a perfect introduction to the album, setting the tone for the confusion which will surely follow for any listener, whether they’re a diehard draag me fan or not. “like a nuisance” also marks the first of four features on the record; some are first-time collaborators, while Body Meat and Pedazo De Carne Con Ojo were previously featured on the project’s debut, 2020’s I Am Gambling With My Life.

draag me - like a nuisance (feat. CRASHprez)

Trap drum elements and rhythms are some of the main sonic motifs of the album, which is not unusual for draag me, but is used on a more frequent basis than in their other projects. In addition, vocal modulation plays a key role in nearly every song, most notably through the use of AutoTune. Yet, all the while, bits and pieces of other genres, seemingly random or unidentifiable instruments, and profound lyrical content weave their way through each song as well, throwing the listener off guard and holding them close simultaneously. It’s a pop record, but one that’s been saved onto a hard drive that Schwartz and Wichlin have fed through a wood chipper a few times to arrive at the perfect intersection of “I don’t get it” and “Oh, I get it now.” Other standouts on the album include “death cult” and “blade in the view” – two singles that were released prior to the record itself – as well as “faster now (it’s almost late)”, the concluding track. Taking a more vocal and instrument-forward approach, the final song is a beautiful culmination of sonic and lyrical themes present on the work as a whole, but soft to the touch in a way that nearly shocks yet comforts the listener.

draag me - faster now (it's almost late)

If I’m honest, it took a couple full listens for me to understand this album. Nevertheless, I always found it fascinating. It’s objectively impressive, yet could take on any form in a subjective sense, morphing in tandem with what you’re drawn to and how intently you’re listening. The things I dismissed or didn’t carry with me from my first listen made a lot more sense the next time around, as I can imagine they would with anybody else. It’s clear that a sizeable amount of energy and meticulous attention to detail went into this project, as every song overflows with an almost eerie, indescribable sort of intrigue that is unique to Schwartz and Wichlin’s avant-garde sensibilities. And, sometimes, it’s just plain fun to listen to.

You can check out the music video to “blade in the view” below. Plus, make sure to grab tickets to SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE’s September 8th appearance at Johnny Brenda’s with Mary Jane Dunphe to see the draag me duo in action on a broader scale; details at WXPN’s concerts and events page.

draag me - blade in the view [official music video]

Track List
1. like a nuisance (feat. CRASHprez)
2. cut the check
3. wax figures in the rain
4. throwing rocks
5. memory 107
6. death cult
7. faces of vultures
8. dangle from the smoke ring
9. blade in the view (feat. Body Meat)
10. donny path (feat. Pedazo de Carne Con Ojo)
11. the process (feat. Devin McKnight)
12. nightclub
13. following
14. lord of the shithouse
15. faster now (it’s almost late)