Appliance - Imperial Metric
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Appliance
Imperial Metric

Nearly 20 years later, synth rock is still alive and well. I guess that we can thank New Order or even Depeche Mode and other bands for starting the genre down the road with leaps and bounds, but instead of trying to get you to move your booty to the beat or even thrill you with wild and crazy sounds, Appliance seems like they're more interested in exploring a more stark, repetitive sound. The trio mixes drum machines and samples with guitar and bass for a sound that doesn't really break any new boundaries, but create music with a slight of hand that works most of the time.

The release actually starts out with one of the more electronic sounding tracks on the entire release. "Seperate Animals" thumps along with a drum machine beat and several different layers of pulsing electronic sounds, while singer James Brooks sings along with sort of a breathy baritone that has just a touch of goth in it. On the second track, the group cuts up a sample of a horn and weaves it through the track in sort of an eerie way while the traditional instruments (read: guitar) only make a slight appearence with some slight strums that add some slight organic atmospherics more than anything else.

After getting a bit dancy on "FLF" (one of the catchier tracks on the disc), the group again moves toward a most stripped-down feel on spooky sounding tracks like "Comrades In A Moscow Hotel" and "AM/FM." Both of the tracks work quite well overall, and the former has an especially creepy feel with a nice bassline and some watery synths. Towards the end of the disc, the group pulls out a couple tracks that take on a definitely more pop edge. "A Little More Information" sports live drum sounds alongside the guitars, bass and synths (one of the only times on the disc) for something that's downright catchy while "A Gentle Cycle Revolution" sounds like a slightly more electronic version of something that Spiritualized would pull off, with layered organ sounds and swirling guitars.

One problem with the release is that many of the tracks on the release simply don't connect very well due to their rather monotonous sound. That isn't to say that all the songs on the release sound similar, but that with the combination of somewhat cold instrumentation and rather detached, monotone vocals, many tracks just sort of lope along without much of a spark behind them. The more pop oriented songs towards the end of the album will probably appeal more immediately to most listeners, but the group also has sort of an early New Order feel to many of their tracks. The album closes out with a spacey instrumental track that works very nicely and also shows that this is still a young group trying lots of things and getting settled with a sound.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00