Pinback: “Sherman” (Video)

Pinback has just released a video for their new song “Sherman” that features a mash-up of film clips from Soviet era low-budget science fiction films. The track is taken from the band’s latest album, Information Retrieved, out this week via Temporary Residence, Ltd. The video premiered on Wired’s website: we have an embed for you below.

Zammuto: S/T LP (Review)

Zammuto S/T LP

Temporary Residence Ltd.

Best known as half of The Books, an indie duo that incorporated both electronica and classical crossover signatures (before the latter was cool!), Nick Zammuto recently released his first solo LP for Temporary Residence.But rather than being a ‘music minus one’ presentation, a recording in which part of a distinctive collaboration is sorely missed, Zammuto has a distinctive sound all its own.

Its leadoff track, “Yay,” underlines that point with an interesting use of vocoder, crafting layers of beat-boxing in counterpoint to skittering live drums and sustained organ lines. Modified vocals are instead employed as longer melodies swaths on “Groan Men, Don’t Cry,” where they are set against syncopated guitar riffs, prog-inflected synth work, and funky percussion fills. “F U C3PO” combines appropriately sci-fi-sounding effects with saucy vocoder singing, taunting the droid mocked in the song’s title.

While this frequent employment of synthetic vocal production could, and, in other settings has, become a gimmick, here Zammuto uses it to provide a distressed, glitchy alternative to the lush sonic palette found on his records as part of the the Books. And don’t assume that the arrangements on Zammuto are only about gadgetry. One need only check out the bass line on “The Shape of Things to Come,” not to mention its varied array of percussion, imaginatively deployed and performed with zesty elan, to belay that notion.

Whether within the Books or as a solo act, one looks forward to many more interesting sounds from Nick Zammuto.

Yay (via Tumblr)

Grails: “Deep Politics,” Heavy on the Strings (Review)

Deep Politics
Temporary Residence Ltd.

A common (mis)perception in pop music is that the inclusion of a string section inherently softens the edges of a band’s sound. On their past couple of LPs, Portland instrumental rock group Grails has confounded this notion, keeping propulsive rhythms in the mix of their already eclectic palette while deftly incorporating copious amounts of strings. One of the bands founding members was a violinist, so the presence of solo strings in Grails’ music is not new to longtime listeners, but composer-performer Tim Harris’ layers his stringed-instrument performances on Deep Politics in such a way as to give the impression that a larger cohort is playing. And through the magic of mixing, the strings are able to hold their own against percussion, vociferous guitar outbursts, and copious analog synth textures (including some lovely vintage Mellotron parts).

In addition to unabashedly reveling in these walls of sound, the band also channels European film music, particularly the work of Ennio Morricone, providing a new and unexpected twist. It’s not every day one hears heavily thrumming riffs such as those on “Future Primitive” and “All the Colors of the Dark” pitted on the same album against the exotic lyricism and tasty keyboard work found on “Daughters of Bilitis” or the post-psych rock jamming of “Almost Grew my Hair” (quite a knowing reference!).

In lesser hands, such disparate strands might seem too extravagantly far flung to cohere. But under the potently creative attentions of Grails, this eclecticism creates a marvelously well-rounded and imaginative sound world and spurs some of their most interesting work to date.

Early Output


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!