Search This Blog

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Adebisi Shank: This Is The Second Album...


1) International Dreambeat; 2) Masa; 3) Genki Shank; 4) Micromachines; 5) (-_-); 6) Logdrum; 7) Bones; 8) Frunk; 9) Europa; 10) Century City.

They did not change the principle of (not) naming their albums, but they did change the running length: second time around is almost twice as long as first time around, and this means these guys better had something important to say, or else this would be just another case of somebody tech­nically overstaying their welcome. Fortunately, this is not such a case.

The Second Album, on the whole, is somewhat more quiet, (sometimes) a little slower, and a little more diverse than its predecessor — a rather typical evolution for any sort of rock band: announce your presence with a bang, then realize that you won't get far by repeatedly «banging» your audience and try going somewhere else. The question is, where?

Well, the first track, ʽInternational Dreambeatʼ (not a typo, although there is nothing particularly dreamy about the music), already gives sort of an answer. Opening with electronic bleeps which then quickly organize themselves around a busy loop, it places its trust neither in the excessive complexity of playing nor in the plain blunt energy, but rather in structure and development — alternating quiet electronic pulsation with pompous power chord blasts, and finally ending in a grand quasi-symphonic finale.

This sets the tone for the rest of the album: the compositions seem to have sacrificed much of the original recklessness in favor of a more thoughtful and calculated approach — as if the math in the band's math-rock formula has gone up a step or two, so that now they are doing calculus where it just used to be quadratic equations. But it is not the actual complexity of the individual parts that has increased: rather, it is the sheer number of these parts, as well as the number of the various guitar tones used by pedal god Larry Kaye, and the number of various styles of music that the «Adebisi Shank Robot» is now supposed to assimilate and interpret.

If ʽMasaʼ is still very much in league with the fast, punkish stuff on the first album, then ʽGenki Shankʼ is already memorable for its broken, jagged riff themes rather than the headspinning pre­cision and speed of their previous «rockers». ʽ(-_-)ʼ (named after a Japanese emoticon) is a soft, almost «balladeering» interlude with echoey «surf-folk» guitar; ʽLogdrumʼ puts the guitar in «swooping» psychedelic mode for much of the time; and on ʽBonesʼ, it seems as if Larry is ex­perimenting with slide playing (or at least a «sliding» effect), creating a robot-folk dance pattern that every respectable old Celtic android might find likeable.

In terms of influence, it also seems that the band is now relying a little less on the garage / punk / pop prototypes from the 1960s and 1970s and a little more on the New Wave stylistics of the late 1970s and early 1980s. You find stuff reminiscent of U2, Television, the Heads, Discipline-era King Crimson, etc., although even here the old-fashioned hooliganry sometimes comes through: for instance, although the main theme of ʽCentury Cityʼ is a ringing echoey guitar line that sounds straight out of 1980, the mid-section is still given over to some spluttery garage soloing.

This is, after all, the key to Adebisi Shank's continuing success — «mathematicians» as they are, these guys just can't help being driven by an ultimately rock'n'roll heart, and although I would generally say that totally obsessed calculation and wild rock'n'roll drive are two diametrically opposed things, Adebisi Shank somehow manage to combine the two, even within a moderately softer and «artsier» setting than their debut album. Unquestionably a thumbs up.

Check "This Is the Second Album..." (CD) on Amazon
Check "This Is The Second Album..." (MP3) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Just listening to this now. I'm struck by how much it sounds like 90215, that is if Yes actually had stones...