Forest People Pop

by Derek Piotr

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Although many themes echo those of its precursor Drono, Forest People Pop marks the boldest stylistic shift in Piotr’s discography. This is Piotr’s most vivid exploration of the melodies, rhythms and hooks of western pop music, refracted through the prism of his own passion for global indigenous musics such as Egyptian electro-chaabi, Algerian raï and Indonesian gamelan.

Forest People Pop has its roots in the Drono sessions, with the previous album’s abstract formlessness failing to satiate Piotr’s restless fascination with percussion. As such, the blueprint for this polyrhythmic record is centred on a marriage between traditional indigenous forest rhythms from across the globe and perceptive references to contemporary pop, hip-hop and club production. These pop allusions are diverse and fascinating, by turns evoking the breaks of Timbaland, the pristine gloss of SOPHIE, Dirty Projectors’ experimentation and the chameleonic shape-shifting of MIA. Hearing the recognisably maximalist sounds of urban music melding with the repetition of Piotr’s indigenous instrumentation is an alien experience, evoking a parallel universe whose mainstream radio is an uncanny post-colonial distortion of our own.

Yet despite contrasts and hybridisation found throughout Forest People Pop, at its centre lies a genuine admiration for pop aesthetics. Its tracks are full of moments that are emotive, catchy and – often overlooked in much contemporary experimental music – fun! Auto-tune, twenty-first century pop’s most ubiquitous instrument, is employed on every track, often to extreme degrees (as in the playful melodies of ‘Light’ and ‘Ice Floe’). Piotr forces the unconventional vocal scales of his indigenous musical influences through auto-tune, whose westernised struggle to recognise them creates a voice that is thrillingly surreal.

Forest People Pop is also Piotr’s first unabashedly devotional record, with most of its songs ruminating on love; both autobiographical and universal. Pre-release single ‘Tonic/You Move’, which opens the album, is unflinching in its emotional content. Spontaneously written, its freeform lyrical structure amplifies the intensely personal sentimentality. There are references throughout to nature and environmental concerns, which are themes that have guided much of Piotr’s output to date, but his lyrics here foreground these issues more explicitly and affectingly than ever before.

Forest People Pop is an impression of western pop music from the perspective of a lover of global musical traditions. Indeed, by lyrically and sonically investing so personally in this body of work, Piotr succeeds in deeply affecting the listener: a reflection of the impact that devotional pop music has on our own daily emotions.

-Text by Dr. Michael Waugh


released June 16, 2017

mastered by cory allen at altered ear

photography by christiana rifaat
shirt by bar soo
styling: christopher rice
post: lyster periotto/derek piotr
passionflower: dylan perkinson
concept: derek piotr

[check tracks individual
for song credits and lyrics]



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Derek Piotr

Poland-born producer/vocalist based in New England whose work focuses mainly on sampling the human voice.

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Track Name: Tonic/You Move
you arrived like a tonic
when I needed most

you make complete sense

my heart cries out
after you leave

there is weight
behind my ribs
that you must move

there is weight
that you must move
through the world now

(I look for hints of you
in everyone
all the time)

there is nothing I can do
but watch you move
Track Name: Light
when you are with me
I feel so light

(so light)

how come
when you are leaving
I don’t know what to do

forward in time
I don’t know what to do

(so light)
Track Name: Hear You
your tide
rises & subsides
giving strange shapes
and take

(but I still hear you say)

slow, hot: I walk
blocking out everything
as I move for your day

(but I still hear you say)
Track Name: Ice Floe 2.oe (feat. Banx)
ice floe it's a piece of us
so we're speaking up
while it's heating up
play your cards right
so we can beat the Trump
with the foresight underneath us
closed eyelids while the levels rising
fossil fuels bring more violence
that's warfare for the warm air
they warned us so don't go there
we need cold air face the cold facts
it's like we're giving earth another toe-tag
it's now or never we need more progression
Track Name: Clear
calm water pools around us
i know you don't understand
but you accept
and the sun is out
and we accept

(to feel you
to fold you
to be near you
to know you)

clear flow

calm water pools around us
calm water spills all over
i know you don't understand
but you accept
and the sun is out
and we accept
Track Name: Crush on You
I got a crush on you
and I wonder if you feel the same
I got a crush on you

I got a crush on you
I wonder when you’ll come my way


I wonder when you’ll come my way

if you would have the grace
I know you would
the shape of your fingers
your face

I got a crush on you
so let me in
Track Name: Sky
you come on silent paws
I ask your name but
you don't reply
instead I turn to wait for you
I turn away
I move the sky
I churn your eyes
into my skin
I move the sky
you come
(hey I don't ask much
I won't ask you)
I move the sky
Track Name: You Move/Timelapse
soft glow
fights back the shadow

you move
at a pace I don’t understand

you move
like a timelapse I don’t understand
Track Name: Aquamarine Endpoint
didn’t know what it was
to be possessed by love
until you arrived

completely on fire
searing my mind

while my soul floats down
aquamarine rivers

and I can’t ascribe
an endpoint
to your namesake

the shape of your fingers
your face

I will battle
in this framework
until I find
an accurate path
Track Name: Sunup
in the mornings
I look for you
and you are not here