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Ithaca College

Left Hand Free (Murder Mix) - Single (2016)


Review By Dom Otto Asís

November 16, 2016

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Dom Otto Asís

Ithacappella brings us a rock-ish interpretation of Justin Timberlake's Murder while seamlessly mashing it up with alt-J's Left Hand Free. The overall musical idea is good, but for me, the arrangement becomes too rowdy. It seems like the idea buries the music underneath the rhythmic vocal percussion and heavily filtered bass.

The first part covers Murder, showing many instances where the lyrics of the vocal solo and the background vocals are not executed well. And some lyrics are lazily thrown away instead of being technically performed within the rhythmic time frame. The whispered lyrics in the beginning sound a bit out-of-sync with the vocal percussion: “murder, murder”, “you’re killing me softly”, and “under the ground, under the ground” are a few examples. Additionally, the background vocals sing "ba dah daht dah" which also disrupts the rhythm. A little quantization on the production side could have helped. 

The next part, Left Hand Free, becomes more tolerable and easier to understand than the former part of the mashup. The one passage that I like is on the lyrics "everybody get down" — that's the part where it kind of makes sense musically. The glissandos are also lovable here. But again, it makes the busy arrangement sound busier. And I have no idea where to lean my focus on.

I feel this track is such a difficult one to interpret, and it's evident that the group struggles to deliver the desired output. I guess the complex voicing of the arrangement is the main issue here. I wish the track had more focus on the message delivery and groove instead of just mixing in so many musical ideas — ones that the track could survive without. The coda is supposed to be this rhythmic blend of voices that could have been emphasized more, but is sadly buried in the mix. Again, Left Hand Free (Murder Mix) is a brilliant mashup idea, but the execution did not quite make it.

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