16 January 2007

NMT: 16 JAN 07 Above & Beyond - Tri-State


Howabout a little electronica/dance music for this week's dose of New Music Tuesday? Not like you get a choice, so here it goes.

All bands are required to have a myspace, it would seem, so here's the link to Above & Beyond's.

First, my overall impression of the album, then the individual tracks. This is like finding a lost Underworld project from circa 1994 or 1995. It's good stuff in the ambient/chill school of electronic dance music. If that description is something that intrigues you, then you'll like most of the tracks, if that doesn't mean anything to you, or sounds like a bad idea for a good time, then avoid this album.

They have their own style, they aren't stuck in the past, but it's not exactly the most fresh sounding album, either.

It's the kind of album that can function well as background, which in some cases is a good thing.

Expect to hear a track or two used in a commercial for some random products over the next half decade or so (that seems to be the normal fate for electronic music lately).

Now the individual song breakdown.

1) Tri-State
The title track, an instrumental only, it's moody, atmospheric, sounds very much like a beginning. More of a sketch of a tune, rather than a song (and yet it's over 4 minutes long).

2) Stealing Time
A real song, with vocals and everything! Lot's of reverb, on the vocals, got to love that. All the old school tricks are piled on thick on this track. That's meant as a compliment, not a putdown.

3) World On Fire
Another instrumental, begins very Eno, but then becomes more standard dance/groove soon in (with the Eno touch as a theme underneath the thump-thump-thump). Interesting composition, for something that could be rather standard, there's a lot going on, and yet at the same time there isn't a whole lot to it. This kind of music is hard to talk about in any coherent fashion.

4) Air For Life
Another hard to describe track, on the surface it's pretty anonymous electronic/dance music that you'd find in any club, but another song where the cliches are used differently than normal. The vocals are so deeply buried that they're just another accent on the song, more voice as instrument than singing. Evidently, these blokes believe you can't get enough high-hat rather than cowbell.

5) Can't Sleep
Starts with the thump-thump, but then when the vocals kick in it goes more for a chill type mood. The requisite synth-swirl follows, and then the thump-thump kicks in again. The vocals are pretty nice though. This song has grown on me after repeated listening.

6) Hope
Hope, ain't just a city in Arkansas, it's also this song. A little too typical for my taste. Nothing horribly wrong, but nothing horribly right, either.

7) Liquid Love
Another song that feels more of a tribute to the last 10-12 years of chill-techno-ambient music out of England rather than a song in of itself. Not bad on its own, but not very meaningful, either.

8) In The Past
Kind of an interstitial sketch between songs rather than a composition to be taken on its own merits. Of course, most interstitial sketches don't go on for 2':36".

9) Alone Tonight
This song bounces more than it thumps. The songs with vocals are generally stronger on this album than the purely instrumental tracks. These blokes, really, really are addicted to the reverb. Sounds familiar, depending on your mood that could be comforting or annoying. Dude's voice is pleasant enough, though. Another track that has appeal.

10) Good For Me
A sweeter more down tempo track than the rest of the songs with vocals on this album. Let it wash over you.

11) For All I Care
This one goes back a bit further than the 90s and flirts with 80s new wave a bit. Wouldn't have been entirely out of place on an OMD album (but the vocalist sounds entirely different, from a song structure standpoint only). This comment is directed only at the 20 or 30 folks who still remember what OMD is an abbreviation for.

12) Indonesia
Another track that had me waiting for something to happen, and yet nothing ever did. Not bad, but not memorable or unique in any fashion.

13) Home
They're bringing this album home with a song called "Home". I have a weakness for thin-yet-prettily-voiced women who still let a faint British accent seep into their singing. I can't possibly judge this song impartially (actually I can't judge any song impartially, nor can anyone else, I suspect). With that said, a good chill song, nothing spectacular, but something not awful, either.

All in all, it's a good listen. Also, after visiting their myspace page (where you can listen to a few songs if you care to), I noticed they'll be playing a few dates in the North America soon. Judging from their itinerary, the person who booked them is pretty clueless about the distances involved. Another British band that will get swallowed up by our vastness.

No comments: