Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bailterspace - Strobosphere LP (Fire)

Strobosphere, Bailterspace’s first studio album since 1999, wastes no time in assuring us of its formidability. Whipfast, the first breach from silence to song in “Things That We Found” is merciless in its arrest. It is primarily the guitar melody that baits, hooks, and demands a replay, a replay that is permitted by the song’s fadeout, and with which the vocals, low and along for the ride, aren’t at odds. All of this has been standard critical issue for Bailterspace in the past, but here it’s on its head, servicing the song impressively.

A band since 1987, Bailterspace is often cited as the Sonic Youth of New Zealand, if only for their seeming ability to pick up cues from nearly any alternative rock trope and make it their own. Their first two records on Flying Nun had them veering away from the aggressive sludge of their first band, The Gordons, to negotiate dissonance and tonality in that New Zealand way that somehow results in pop. With this as their background, they were able to define some much needed edges for shoegaze as they moved to the United States and signed to Matador in the early ’90s. 
Robot World and Vortura culled memorable melodic structures from the gauze of the genre and provided darker tones of nostalgia.

This past is apparent in Strobosphere, but not as you may think. The influences have been sliced so many times sideways as to be their own industry. Time has served this band well (naturally) and the times have served them well, with the current splintering of genres leaving them with nothing specific to pick up but themselves.
Elizabeth Murphy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         -from Agit Reader

This may be the finest Bailterspace record yet. Don't get it twisted (I hate it when people say that), I love the unabashed noise of the Photon EP and of course they did some great stuff when shoegaze happened to them - heck, they even held their own as they fought off the Brit Pop. But Strobosphere is just them, and the first song, "Things That We Found" is a motherfucker, standing up to "X", "morning", "Argonaut", et all......  I listened to it eight times in a row, back to back, before I listened to the second song; wanting to fully understand it, immerse myself in its make-up, and render it ineffective at making me have feelings. "No Sense" is another stand-out. It is what white belts circa 2000 were trying to write so they could open for The Fall. It is sneaky-dancy; I imagine it could swell subconscious movement into a club, the kind that gets everybody laid. I will leave ya'll to your own devices for that to transpire, but the video I posted below my review is an exercise to exorcize "Things That We Found", High Mumblecore T.I.W.W.A.H. Productions 2012. 

T.I.W.W.A.H. Productions