"The only thing I know how to do is have fun. I never take things too seriously," says Crookers AKA Phra Barbaglia, presumably as he rides a unicorn down a Roman highway while eating bagel bites and playing the trumpet. "Having fun in the studio is super important; if people are too serious I have to walk away."
On Crookers upcoming album, Sixteen Chapel, released on his own Ciao records and the first since going solo, Crookers has an unreasonable amount of fun. Tracks like "Ghetto Guetta," "Able to Maximize,' and "Heavy" have been circulating for a while now, all characterized with a bossy, upfront tones and an absolutely twonked out sense of adventure. There are pan flute and porno samples amidst some undeniable dance tunes. Check our fav "Heavy" below.
Sixteen Chapel very quickly quashes any concerns fans may have has since the departure of Andrea "Bot" Fratangelo. Phra ain't sweatin' it either. "I don't think my music has changed that drastically at all," he says. "Since day one of Crookers, I've been very involved in production. The only change is the overall process - I work 200x faster! It's also great not having to answer to anyone and being able to feel more free."
Much of the material on the record was inspired by the Barbaglia's discovery of a bunch of old hard drives full of material. "These hard drives were actually earlier productions, before Crookers," he explains. "It was a real throwback. I loved them and kept grooving to them and decided I wanted to re-work the music in a more current way." This mix of old and new may go some way to explaining the delicate confluence Crookers is able to pull off between raw and stylish. It's one of those records where you can just see the shit-eating grin on Barbaglia's face as he put it all together.
Perhaps one of the most stylish tunes on the album is the soulful, trip-hop inspired "Dangerous," featuring Midnight, of which we've got the premiere above. It's like nothing you've heard from Crookers before. "I was listening to Portishead everyday when writing "Dangerous," says Phra. "I wanted to re-create a Portishead inspired drum loop. Although you could never re-create Portishead, they're incredible."
After an epic wait, the re-emergence of Crookers is a reality. With a continent spanning North American tour just announced, fans are hungry to see all this madness live. A few words of advice from Crookers, though: "Expectations in general are bad, in my opinion, especially in sets. I don't want people to expect anything - You'll just have to see!"
Pre-order the album on iTunes and peep these tour dates: