Scene-setting. Every week, contributors to OMB receive a list of new releases that we are tasked with reviewing via an e-mail from the editor, and in the last e-mail the description for the above EP caught my eye: ‘Eerie trip-hop inspired debut EP from local solo writer/producer’. However I’d say I was mis-sold; on a first impression I would call this EP more ambient for starters with a fleeting main course of trip-hop. That said, there is a more in-depth analysis of the release to be had…
The first track, ‘Viaduct’, begins ominously, with a sounds like futuristic and decaying church bells. The bell motif is used again later in the song to usher in the main rhythm sequence, which sounds a lot like the beat from ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack, albeit more subdued (genre points gained here). There is also something unsettling (eerie, you might say) about the background noises which cut into and counteract the steady rhythm and bass loops. However this song, and also the following track ‘Fileofdivision’, sounds a little too much like background, scene-setting music for a video game or scary movie a la Resident Evil and thus not particularly suitable for a 6-plus minute song.
The aforementioned ‘Fileofdivision’ is shorter than ‘Viaduct’ at just over the four minute mark and has its backbone rooted in what sounds like a synthesised guitar which produces a haunting effect on the listener. Instead of being built upon throughout the song , the riff is dented, seemingly at random, by trite drops and raises which are too soft to shock the listener into any sort of rhythmic understanding and yet too jerky to provoke any reaction beyond mild confusion (see especially the 20 second interlude at 2.24).
‘Howl’ is the name of the third track and while the title doesn’t quite translate to the music it marks a turning point, aptly placed in the middle of this 5-track EP. The song is based around a dreamy 80s inspired synth interspersed with wet-sounding glitches which cut in much better than the bizarre interruptions heard in ‘Fileofdivision’. The enhanced musical prominence of ‘Howl’ seems to set the listener up for something more music-y to follow.
‘Sodium’ starts off with an infectious beat (finally!!) and leads in to a genre standard of a person talking about mundane things (in this case a man is talking about sound checks) over a beat whilst being glitches by the producer. Furthermore, the twinkly (no better word for it) synth in this track compliments the overall song very well. The final track on the EP, ‘Thebells’, kicks in with a homage to ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’ by the Postal Service set to a head-nodding breakbeat. The violin and bell middle 8 breaks up the song to ensure it doesn’t become tiresome and also introduces the sampled voice technique heard in ‘Sodium’, again used to good effect.
As far as debuts go, After The Thought EP shows promise, especially in the last two tracks. On the other hand the producer seems to have gone beyond ambient with ‘Viaduct’ and ‘Fileofdivision’ and strayed into the realms of background music featuring glitches, like a scratched CD of whale music. My advice is skip straight to track 3, perhaps 4.