The Brooklyn duo’s mesmerizing new track strives toward a sense of community.
Brooklyn-based psych-folk project Olden Yolk, led by Shane Butler of Quilt and Caity Shaffer, haven’t been together for very long, and then only intermittently; a cursory search through their Bandcamp page shows a couple songs released in 2013, and a very haunting tribute to Butler’s mother released earlier this year. Their new track, “Takes One to Know One,” showcases a band that sounds, both musically and conceptually, mature beyond its years. It starts off with a looping, minor-key acoustic riff, backed by haunting strings, followed a driving backbeat and then Butler and Shaffer’s circuitous vocal melody. As the song tumbles on over its eight-minute runtime, it takes on a hypnotic, trance-like quality, one that its accompanying music video—full of flashing stock images of old New York—captures perfectly.
“‘Takes One to Know One’ is a play on [a] phrase typically meant to assign blame through commonality,” Butler and Shaffer said of the song. “Its use in the song is closer to an acceptance of our collective situation rather than a belittlement of it. It was written in our hometown of New York City—an iconic place whose icons (monuments, buildings, public art) are continually morphing and breaking down, shifting whatever former meaning had once been assigned to them. Some moments hit right when you feel like the ‘writing’s on the door.’ The song, written during an especially jarring year of disillusionment, explores the process of finding solace in passing visages—a stranger’s smile on the subway or the beauty of haphazard graffiti on a brick-laden wall. The song cycles around a group chant at the choruses. Its instrumentation is highly inspired by the percussion style of Jaki Liebezeit (of the German group CAN), a favorite of ours.”