Early Output: 1996-1998
Temporary Residence CD TRR139
Kieran Hebdan, Adem Ilhan, and Sam Jeffers were just teenagers when they signed to Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings. But the sides they recorded for the imprint are anything but the sonic analog to gawky high school yearbook photos. Judging from the material collected on Early Output, while their technique was still rough around the edges, the trio’s creativity and musical chemistry proved abundant from the start.
Fridge’s first single, “Lojen,” is a marvelous diamond in the rough. Jeffers creates off-kilter, varied skittering patterns that seem quasi-improvised yet simultaneously organic; intrinsic to the arrangement. Meanwhile Adem lays down a robot-funk bass line. The bass-drums groove on “Anglepoised” is heady stuff too: a bedrock of post-rock over which Hebden layers swaths of playfully exploratory, ebbing and swelling synth chords.
“Swerve and Spin” is a “take no prisoners” space rock anthem, with propulsive rhythms and a juggernaut riff. “Astrozero” contains a wonderful counterpoint between ostinato guitar filigrees from Hebden and strummed bass chords from Adem while Jeffers sets up syncopated unequal threes in the background. “A Slow” creates a more relaxed, slowly evolving ambience; but it still presents some intriguing metric swerves and a multifaceted thematic scheme.
Lest one think that this release is a rehash of 1998′s Sevens and Twelves collection, the CD includes cuts from the early LPs as well as a previously unreleased song and several similarly unreleased fragments. True, one might feel a bit deprived that many of these ‘new’ tracks are snippets under a minute in length; but they actually prove to be fascinating bagatelles of sonic inquiry. The one full length cut, “Triumphant Homecoming,” more than compensates for the others’ brevity: it’s a richly varied arrangement, veering close to IDM in places only to confuse the rhythm with quick changes of pacing and overlaid synth polyphony.
Would that all trips down memory lane were so pleasant!