Ann Arbor are two men and a drum machine making pounding electric chaos like a cargo train running into the night on rails of broken glass. Think Shellac getting their low-slung groove on with Justin Broderick, or 65daysofstatic ditching the glitch for some heavy-duty punk workouts. This music is utterly menacing, but completely engrossing. It skullfucks your emptied eyeholes like a randy buffalo after first digging into your synapses with a clawhammer. It tricks newcomers into false senses of security, into fleeting comfort zones, with brief segments of tuneful song, only to crash them into a wall of industrial squall seconds later. Masochistic bastards.
TWO MEN ONE DRUM MACHINE, NO VOCALS. RESULT.
THE LOWDOWN: An Arbor may travel light - Tim Waterfield and Matt Jones have forsworn their right to a singer or drummer- but when it comes to music they pile on the force with black hole intensity. 16 Bit is a devastating maelstrom of post-rock discordance and ferocity, starting in its invention. Here, Slint-style guitar abrasions are twisted into dubbed-out depth charges, electronic blackouts and corrosive attacks far greater than the sum of their minimal parts. Dark and unnervingly addictive
Too many people scoff at the thought of a drum machine-propelled band. Well, the Sisters of Mercy made their career with Dr Avalanch handling the beats, and Godflesh might not have been quiet the titanic trendsetters had they not stepped out onto early stages with their trusty Boss Dr Rhythm tucked discreetly on top of an amp. Well, here's another outfit to add to the list of enterprising outfits: Ann Arbor, and with their post-rock, post-hardcore, post-spazz, post-Godflesh - hell! - post-fuckin-everything blen of suprisingly ambient sonics, they're not an outfit you're likely to forget in a hurry. Check out the the heartbeat-like procession of 'Rhythm', where reverb-laden axes splay out over time-bomb like hi-hats. Then there's the trance like 'Decimate' and 'Kill the Cool Cat', where jagged bass grooves are spliced with a wild scribble of guitar. In a league of their own. Nice
"Bored" starts off anything but, with old Therapy? style scuzziness and harder edged rhythms, with a thrashing, dissonant riff beating its way over the top, shortly after replaced by something a little janglier, but still rather dark. Very promising start, and I am praying that, after 75 seconds, the vocals won't come in and ruin this good start, that is heavily Shellac, Jesus Lizard, ?, and Fudge Tunnel inspired in style, sound and dramatic delivery. In fact, its entire three minute existence is instrumental, and very good indeed.
"Rhythms" continues the Shellac theme, but goes off almost into Man.. or Astro Man? territory in parts, being very 50's rockabilly in flavour, maybe a touch Eastern as well, swapping places with scuzzy, noisy guitars every so often. "Decimate" has some wonderful ambient soundscapes and "Five by five" darkens things with some sweat-inducingly mood crammed rhythms, before the fantastically groovy and jangly "Kill the cool cat" takes over, definitely out of the Jesus Lizard fighting with Godflesh of old chapter.
Ann Arbor are odd. They mix together sounds unexpected, they mash together styles bizarre, but overall, their instrumental ramblings are radically different to most bands I could think of, and with every track having its own identity, this album stays captivating throughout.
"Turning to the ground" is more than a hats off to Steve Albini, whereas "Get yourself happy for a while" haunts around Massive Attack and Verve of early releases. "It can't be wrong" has classic Aphex Twin ambient moments to finish us off.
The only thing I can complain about is that this is way too short. We need more.
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