Before Your Very Eyes is the opening track on AMOK, the 2013 debut from Atoms For Peace. While the members themselves don’t call themselves a supergroup, many music fans would be particularly inclined to view this band in that way; especially since its members include Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and producer/electronic composer Nigel Godrich. While these three musicians may seem poles apart in terms of genre and influences (and believe me, they are); they come together in a genre-bending chaos of sound that can only be known as Atoms For Peace. There’s too many “real” instruments for this to be strictly electronic music, the beat is too dance-able for it to be ambient, and it’s too ambient to be proper EDM. It is just Atoms For Peace, straight and clean.
Now I must admit, like anything Thom Yorke is involved in, this track can be a bit difficult to accept at first listen. There’s a ton of sound layering going on that warrants at least 2-3 listens before the song really makes an impact (at least in my case). But when this song impacts, it IMPACTS.
This song is nothing short of an aural film. The complex percussion rhythms created by multiple track layering slither like a bed of snakes while the distorted synth and computer soundscrash in sharp, static waves on the warm sandy guitar tones. All the while Yorke’s echo-laden vocal performance acts the siren; sweetly singing lyrics of the vacuous allure of youth and beauty while hinting at the impending prospect of old age that lies in wait. All of these elements homogenize in a way that allows the listener to unfold the sounds they hear; choosing to focus on any of the given tracks to gain a fresh insight into the song.
Now, multiply that by 9 and you’ve got AMOK. A fascinating blend of styles and sounds that sure to please those who like to try and decode songs for their hidden pearls of insight.
Body of Work comes to us off of The Mynabirds’ 2012 release Generals. The Omaha, Nebraska based group demonstrate their musicianship in this upbeat, quirky indie pop song through a mixture of well blended vocal tracks and multiple percussion textures. The song gives the listener a sense of open space due to the lack of midrange sounds usually provided by bass and guitar in other songs. Although this lack of midrange sounds is challenge to work with, The Mynabirds rise to the challenge through overlapping percussive rhythms and minimal, ethereal guitar and keyboard in the higher range to provide subtle yet effective background for the beautifully harmonized vocals. The vocals are clearly the emphasis of the song, with a winding, twisting melody that is more reminiscent of the folk tradition than the ultra-repetitive pop singing style. Either way, Body of Work is an interesting combination of sounds that dares to break out of traditional writing styles.
The River comes to us as a new single from The Darcys in anticipation of their new album Warring, which is due for release in September. This track from the Toronto based group demonstrates their song-writing prowess, mixing an exciting blend of classic alt-rock sounds with spacey guitar and vocals as well as crisp electronic drum beats. The sinister, echoing guitar notes at the beginning of the song signal the masterpiece to come, laying down a foundation upon which the song slowly and dramatically builds like a brilliant plume of smoke out of a nineteenth century locomotive. The vocals are deceptively powerful, swelling and rising with the music in a controlled, mature way that is rarely experienced in a post Led Zeppelin world of rock singers. The River is a great indie tune that mixes just the right amounts of ambience, melodic hooks, and drama. Just one small sample of the burgeoning Toronto indie rock scene that has been steadily growing over the last decade, The Darcys are a great example of the innovation that has been wrought into Canadian music over the years.
You’ll want to keep an eye on this band.