California Sounds: Tool’s first song in 13 years, plus new cuts from YACHT and Quitapenas


Tool, “Fear Inoculum” (Volcano/Sony)

On Wednesday, fans of the prog-metal band Tool awoke to the band’s first new song in 13 years. To say devotees were giddy is an understatement: “We have been through Hell and back in our lives,” one commenter wrote on Vevo. “Some of us in abusive relationships, some of us overseas in combat, some of us doing the daily grind. But we survived. We are here. We made it. And together we can all cherish this new, beautiful music.”

Stretching across 10 minutes, “Fear Inoculum” finds singer and lyricist Maynard James Keenan focused on what he calls in one verse “my allegorical elegy.” Featuring a character called “the Deceiver” and a narrator fixated on ideas of contagion, lies, immunity and “venom in mania,” the words are carried by a mesmerizing, time-signature-jumping combination of contrabass, bells, synthetic dots, choppy distorted guitars and a conga-driven rhythm. When the band locks into its groove, the music moves with a propulsion that at some points suggests German “krautrock” band Can and at others the Melvins’ beefy art metal. The song is the title track to Tool’s fifth album, which comes out Aug. 30.

YACHT, “(Downtown) Dancing” (DFA)

For the first track from the forward-thinking Los Angeles trio’s new album, Claire L. Evans, Jona Bechtolt and Rob Kieswetter tapped open-source artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools. They did so by using as source material YACHT’s 82-song back catalog.

Collaborating with AI experts to create lyrics, music and even the font used in the lyric video (above), YACHT invited algorithms into the studio for “(Downtown) Dancing,” a jerky post-disco track about pleasure and sound that has at its center Evans’ echoey, computer-bolstered voice. It’s one of 10 tracks produced using these methods, which will be released as the album “Chain Tripping” on Aug. 30.

Quitapenas, “Tranquilidad” video (Cosmica)

The psychedelic new video from the Inland Empire’s best afro-Latin band occurs during what’s described as “a colossal, and history-making, blackout.” We watch as a worker for Inland Empire Electric encounters something supernatural, which turns out to be an adorable, rainbow-colored furry creature.

What follows is an “E.T.”-suggestive story about kids, the cops and an alien. Set in what video director Andrew Vasquez calls “The Tatooine of Riverside,” the video for “Tranquilidad” is scored by a song that, according to release notes, “pays respects to the environment and draws inspiration from Funana music of Cabo Verde as well as Puerto Rican Bomba.” The song is taken from Quitapenas’ new album “Tigrada,” which comes out Friday.


7:06 a.m. Aug. 10, 2019: This story was updated to clarify that YACHT is a trio also featuring Rob Kieswetter.