Like Sonic Youth in the 1980s and Liars today, Elapse-O are one of those bands capable of bringing outsiders unfamiliar to experimental music in.
Elapse-O EP (Records on Ribs)
Oxford based Elapse–O have been bracketed under the genre of “Noise-rock”, a music scene which has become quite trendy in the past year with the emergence of mainstream breaking bands such as Fuck Buttons. With this tag and growing popularity comes an increasing vulnerability of the criticism that it is simply robots taking over music – those with the better computers make the better records. It is not a new criticism, in the early 1970s bands as big as Pink Floyd fended off critics claiming guitar pedals were in fact creating most of their music. It’s a debate which needs to be looked at more closely, but thankfully with an Elapse-O review we can put this problem to one side.
Elapse-O are primarily a rock band creating their own noise by themselves, without the aid of state of the art music programs or an expensive recording studio. It is noise rock back to its roots. Opening track Sonny Liston sets a raw yet controlled setting which is consistent throughout the debut EP. They use an obscure and distinctive drum loop (which is manipulated with a lot of reverb) as a back bone to a repeating wash of clever distortion through a ringing guitar riff. This gradually becomes more textured with the occasional emergence of a dooming bass. On top of all this, there are also cool echoing vocals deeply imbedded into the mix, which sound a little like Iggy Pop. Instead of demanding attention this fits in perfectly like another guitar layer. It’s exciting as it strikes an unfamiliar note in today’s glossy over produced industry. Golden Ships carries on this loud atmospheric distortion but with a thumping bass far higher in the mix which together creates a powerful and compelling wall of noise. The mix is perfectly controlled; it’s not too raw that things get lost in the mix, and it loses none of the chaotic energy which the noise sets out to achieve.
We then get onto what I feel is the highlight of the record with the song Island. The wall of noise is turned down a few notches leaving the vocals to be far more distinctive and important. This in turn makes the noise and guitar layers more subtle and in contrast to the rest of the record you notice different things. In Island Elapse-O sound like mid 80s Sonic Youth, doing exactly as they want – free from any pressure to sell or to fit in. They produce that middle area, blending the harsh sounds of no wave/hard noise with alternative rock. The layering is perfect meaning the distorted melody really shines in the mix. There is so much going on in the 6 minute song, with subtle changes and developments, a listener can listen to it again and again finding new things they like every time. Island sets a strong potential as to what Elapse-O produce next. Like Sonic Youth in the 1980s and Liars today, Elapse-O are one of those bands capable of bringing outsiders unfamiliar to experimental music in. While it is far from radio friendly, it actually manages to be pleasant enough on the ear, and the best thing of all is you don’t get the feeling they are compromising what they are doing in the slightest to achieve this.
The record ends with Mars, which turns the noise back up again, but this time it results in a garage rock edge emerging. It really does end up sounding like the Stooges using Swans as a backing band. This is a powerful end to the recordings, offering yet another edge to the band. It leaves a listener to reflect on the different connecting sounds Elapse-O touch on. They seem to blend their clear influences of No Wave and heavy/alternative rock well, without ever committing themselves to either. The EP isn’t groundbreaking as its influences at times can easily be found and with every new band there as still some rough edges, however it is unrealistic to expect a debut recordings to be solely unique and what it lacks in experience it makes up with charm. What is exciting about the record is the clear potential they have as an experimental band. It’s an extremely interesting and convincing debut, which strongly suggests the possibility of an exciting and unique future.
Words: Martin Percival.
The Elapse-0 EP can be found to download on the Records on Ribs website at http://www.recordsonribs.com/artists/elapseo/
The Elapse-O Website http://www.myspace.com/elapseo