Friday, April 27, 2012

Torche- Harmonicraft part 2

OK, like I said, I'm coming back to it, now that it's been released. I sincerely hope you've listened to it, and bought it, because it's definitely more than worthwhile.
So, what do I think of it? Well, the first thing that's overwhelming about it is the sense of joy. Seriously, joy. It's not really a "funny" record, it's not comedy, although some things may strike you as funny. But, I think the thing that makes it seem so much more inviting and fun is the obvious relish, and yes, sheer joy these guys seem to have for playing music. It makes me think about how a sense of joy is missing in otherwise great music. Like the stoner-sludge-doom background for these guys- how many of those bands convey joy? Maybe humour, maybe satisfaction, but so rarely is it joy.
The other thing that dovetails with that, is how beautiful some of the playing is. For example, the title track is an instrumental echo-pedal workout that manages to both be crushingly heavy, and delicately pretty in a way that I haven't heard too often- the only two examples that come to mind are Dave Navarro's early Jane's Addiction work, and Tom Morello's work in Audioslave.
I realize that I do the Generation X comparison/analogy thing to utter death, but just as a reference for you, bands that I hear echoes of in the music- the guitars remind me of God Machine, Workers, U2, Melvins and Low Pop Suicide, and Jane's Addiction. The song writing, again, Jane's Addiction, but also Husker Du, Superchunk, Heatmiser, and Neurosis. The singing reminds me of Ozzy, and Helmet , Dinosaur Jr and God Machine. The beats range from Husker Du to Rush to Black Sabbath. Yes, those are a lot of bands, but not many of them suck, now do they? The point is that this is really heavy Alt-rock- not so very different from the pre- Nirvana "Alternative Nation" stuff, but modernized with a greater range in both harmony and sheer sonics. Hell, there is a bit in "Solitary Traveller" that reminds me of My Bloody Valentine and just a few minutes later, there's a bit in "Looking On" that's not so different from Floor- thus bridging the gap between unrepentant sludge and dream pop.
The lyrics are more impressions than anything coherent but if you're looking for poetry, seriously, crank up the guitars.
The folks at Pitchfork hate it, and most others love it. I think that says a lot, right there- I think you'd have to be a contrarian asshole to not find something at least likeable. Still, I have two complaints- first that they seem to have done away with the Bomb string. Yes, it was a gimmick, but I liked it. The other complaint is that they mastered it a bit "hot"- there's some distortion in the recording, itself- but not so extreme as to sound intentional, like Milligram. It's more like a minor nuisance that sometimes, the bass distorts out, so you hear mush, not sludge.
Still, a near-perfect record. But, believe it or not, despite all the massive hooks and bombastic solos- it's actually a subtle album filled with not-so subtle joy- the subtlety lies in the marriage of extreme metal trappings to early 1990's alt-rock pop- drawing out alternative ways of hearing seminal music, and a new barometer for music yet to be made.

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