Couldn’t it be construed as some kind of cop-out to say a particular genre of music can only be enjoyed whilst ‘in a certain mood’? Such is the defence of the psychedelic rock label, characterized by excessive guitar feedback and fuzzboxes, elaborate and obscure studio effects and caveman style instruments like the synthesizer and theremin. As of recent the style of music has struggled to find its place in a period that swapped LSD for LCDs. The sophomore release from Altanta based trio All The Saints, Intro To Fractions is our dosage of contemporary bohemian tuneage for today and whilst it requires immense will power and a mind free of ache to enjoy it’s an average serving.
Opening with a plodded and simplistic riff, first single ‘Half Red, Half Way’ breaks into a collapsing rhythm of scratching electric guitar and a steady drum beat. The extended minute and a half intro punctuated by lone vocals clearly matches the band’s reputation as successful live performers, but as we’re about to see that doesn’t translate all too well in a studio outing.
Whilst ‘Polydaughters’ wavers back and forth in a succumbed slumber, ‘Alteration’ is a far more intense trip, with a vastly faster tempo and a more invasive tone. By now the vocal effects have become the most grating aspect; overdone and rendered nigh incomprehensible, and when you’re a band who’s influenced by the “fertile music scene that has spanwed the likes of Deerhunter and Black Lips” you’re probably going to have some freaky shit to say. Thus the infinitely more toned down ‘Host’ is a breath of fresh air, though the wailing instrumental screeches do nothing but annoy.
‘EiO’ is the standout number, mixing together various techniques effectively and actually creating an atmosphere that isn’t all uncomfortable. It’s also the best highlight of vocalist Matt Lambert’s stifled ability, and the eclectic drumming ala Jim Crook comes in nicely two minutes in. Whatever the intended goal of the band was, whether it was to produce a consistently shifting melody that expresses inner turmoil, the fragile psyche and/or the unravelling layers of emotional capability, this is the track that comes closest to achieving that without putting off.
After the meshy yet still varied ‘Preachy’, the rest of the release opts for short song lengths, with semi titular track ‘Intro To Fractions 1’ brandishing a far slower tempo then its preceding numbers, ultimately making it the most accessible of the songs to a listener who prefers music that isn’t off its face. The great instrumental interlude ‘Sunk Hill’ sounds like it shouldn’t even belong to the album, whilst finale ‘Buster’ has a superb instrumental backing by bassist Jim Titus, and is far closer to progressive rock except for brief moments of simulated mind-altering.
Many critics always cite the need for repeated listening as the sign of a good album, but I don’t feel this always true. For Intro into Fractions it’ll work for those who appreciate and enjoy songs of the neo-psychedelic variety, but for everyone else it’s frustrating to sit through. This doesn’t denote a level of higher thinking required nor is it enjoyable only to those who can’t remember what colour their face is; it is however preaching to the converted and only half-heartedly.
Words > Graham Ashton