boy eats drum machine
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boy eats drum machine


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Gimme a Two-Thousand-and-(L)Eight-Pass, Vol. 1: Boy Eats Drum Machine"

Yeah, 2008 is over, but I’m still discovering records that came out before the year ended. There are also a few albums I just never managed to find the time or space for during what was a very busy year on the blog. So don’t be surprised if I slip an occasional post about a neglected ‘08 release in before I’m overwhelmed by all the awesomeness 2009 has in store. Sure, there’s a lot to look forward to in the New Year, but that shouldn’t prevent us from glancing back every once in a while, right?

Boy Eats Drum Machine ‘Booomboxxx’If it did we’d be missing out on artists like Portland, Oregon-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and turntablist Jon Ragel–also known as Boy Eats Drum Machine–and his recently-released third full-length Booomboxxx. I admit that I missed out on Booomboxxx myself when it dropped in October, but luckily I got hip to Ragel’s emotive, melodramatic, breakbeat-and-sample-infused Phonograph-Pop just a few days into the New Year.

Shuffling between turntable, laptop, saxophone, percussion and the microphone, Ragel, in his guise as Boy Eats Drum Machine, is a one-man band. Cut-up breakbeats, crackly samples and electronic programming are his rhythm section. And whether he uses samples, synthetically generated tones or live instruments to flesh them out, his boudoir compositions sound like a band, if not a mini-orchestra. His sound–a fusion of vinyl manipulation, cut-n-paste pastiche, baroque embellishment, arty experimentalism and laptop glitch–is aesthetically unique

This approach to Pop songcraft from the perspective of a vinyl culture enthusiast might lend comparisons to RJD2 and Russian Futurists some credence. The album-opening title-track however resembles a RZA/Geddy Lee collabo for the soundtrack to some Tarantino-directed kung-fu/cowboy/dirty-cop hybrid with its exploitation-flick guitars, warped East Asian samples and bombastic Arena-Rock vocals. While tunes like the stumbling, wax-rubbed “I’m Alive, Don’t Bury Me” and the jumpy, horn-fueled “Demonic With Horns” have a TV On the Radio-esque flavor.

Boy Eats Drum Machine “I’m Alive, Don’t Bury Me”

Freddie MercuryAnother horn-y cut, “Planets + Stars,” melds sizzling breaks, scratches, Afrobeat-ish saxophones, ’80s-inspired synths & triumphal guitars and showcases Ragel’s appreciation for the vocal theatrics of Freddie Mercury…Even if he doesn’t quite have the chops for that sort of thing himself. A return to TVOTR-reminiscent harmonizing on “La La La La,” which meshes Shoegaze-y drone, Celtic-inspired melodies, an uptempo drum break, tribal percussion loops and funky horns, suits his range much better. And with its rattling beat & skronky horns “Put Your Hands All Over Me” just knocks.

The fuzzy “is it real, or is it dusty wax dubbed to Memorex” quality of the music, coupled with Ragel’s awkwardly deadpan pomposity as a vocalist lend Booomboxxx the air of a record teaming mysterious multi-instrumentalist Clutchy Hopkins and histrionic UK troubadour Trouble Over Tokyo…Only when you listen to it you find out they’re both aliases of one Robert Diggs, and he’s just a figment of Dave Sitek’s imagination…And I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that! -

"Boy Eats Drum Machine - Booomboxxx"

From the ever-clever Portland hails the one-man wonder Jon Ragel, AKA Boy Eats Drum Machine. Armed like an octopus, Ragel’s live performances involve him juggling wheels of steel, various percussion, saxophone, guitars and vocals. On record, the artist constructs a refined and colorfully textured landscape, decorated with such interesting oddities.

In a mere half hour, Ragel solidifies himself as a prominently talented producer, creating 10 sharp and catchy soundscapes of experimental blue-eyed soul on Booomboxxx. Where one would expect a syllable-wielding emcee to pop into the picture, expressive vocals glide, sometimes bearing a resemblance to The Folk Implosion’s Lou Barlow and occasionally doubled up to create a hugeness that Arcade Fire could appreciate (if they were to sing over a DJ Shadow beat).

Between the expertly executed turntable cuts, sample snippets, one-string surf riffs and fuzzy sub-bass synths, beats are the backbone of this album and remain consistently compelling and intense enough to challenge the limits of any sound system. Equally notable and graciously sprinkled all over the album are addictive layers of horns. And though its frequency may be spotty, the brass itself is thick enough to be applied with a fire hose.

Headphones are necessary to fully experience Booomboxxx and enjoy the expert panning and doubling techniques. But ultimately, Ragel has created an album that could resonate with hugeness even in a ringtone. (Tender Loving Empire)

-Evan “The Bug” Jerome - Performer Magazine


Jon Ragel stole my pen quite a few times this year and for good reason. The Portland chameleon is a one-man circus, freakishly talented at playing every instrument you thought you could play, at the same time. His ‘08 gem Booomboxxx should make tails wag for next year. After seeing him beat a drum while playing the saxophone and running the turntables, logic tells me he doesn’t sit still for long. Expect more great samples from records past and a further polished sound from the eight-armed maestro. He was better each time in 2008, disproving any ill-advised claims of novelty act or notions that his music is “good because it’s weird.” It’s good because it’s good—clever, dancey, soulful, engaging. My crystal ball estimates collaborations, larger venues and another EP in 2009. God save us if he figures out how to incorporate his feet. MARK STOCK -


Hoop and Wire (lp - 2/2010)
Booomboxxx (lp - 11/2008)
Two Ghosts (lp - 9/2007)
Pleasure LP (lp - 11/2005)