Monday, May 12, 2014

Album Review :: Art Trip & The Static Sound - Nothing Is Static

Art Trip & The Static Sound

Nothing Is Static

May 19 2014 (Fiasco Recordings)


Words: Dave Beech

Having first heard Art Trip & The Static Sound a little over a year ago and having thoroughly enjoyed their second release 'EP2', I approached their debut full length full of anticipation, and given the time in between my experiences of the band, I was expecting the few creases that marred my last experience to be ironed out by now. As it happens, I was half right.

'Nothing Is Static' feels like it has more direction than Art Trip's previous releases and benefits from it massively. However, there are times -mainly during the first half - when the production, though intentionally lacking in polish, is so lo-fi that it stops adding to the record's overall DIY aesthetic, and actually detracts from it instead.

Those who read my review  of the aforementioned EP might think I'm being hypocritical here. After all, I did sing the praises of the production (or lack thereof) on 'EP2', and therein lies the crux: that was an EP, this an album, and as such, the early muddiness still being as present as it is, stops 'Nothing Is Static' feeling like the natural progression it should.

There are tracks which certainly get the balance right, however. Opener 'The Girl Who', though caustic by later comparisons, introduces the band's DIY mentality instantly, bringing to mind the garage rock of '70s New York coupled with the no-frills hardcore of 1980s. It also brings to mind their earlier EP in more than just the production quality, the composition much more akin to that of the faster tracks on 'EP2'.

'Hex' comes in at the halfway point and features a fantastic rolling bassline - the perfect accompaniment to Melodie Holliday's haunting vocal - with Tony Fisher's abrasively sporadic guitar licks offsetting the smoothness excellently. Indeed, it is 'Hex' that marks a significant turning point in the album's pacing and intention. Where before it seemed to meander, not necessarily aimlessly but without much direction, with 'Hex' (and the tracks that follow) the fuzz isn't so much dialled down as made as much a part of the song as the bass or percussion, revealing a subtler clarity that allows the record to flow in a more definite direction. 'Voices', for instance, incorporates the fuzz expertly, whilst the seven minute groove that is 'Bathtub' is the most polished track on offer and would lend itself awesomely to extended psychedelic versions when performed live.

It's a shame that the first half of 'Nothing Is Static' meanders as it does, because the second half of the record is nothing short of brilliant. Of course, final track 'Stop' uncaps the fuzz again; the lyrics all but unfathomable, but at less than 90 seconds long, and after the triumph that is 'Bathtub' this matters not. And one can only hope that the genre-bending second half of '...Static' is indicative of albums to follow.

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