“Anyone with a deep record collection will understand that Strangelight aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just taking the dust jackets off the old classics and melting the vinyl down for fun.” This, together with the name Fugazi, pretty much sums up the review of this EP. The rest of this page could be used to appeal for donations to the Flying Spaghetti Monster movement and nobody would complain. Any other lost cause worth campaigning for? But we’re good people and we can’t help but say a few other things. Like, for instance, that when you mention Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto’s band, you are implicitly referring to that musical trend which, from the late 1980s onwards, literally changed the way we see, consider and think about indie music. Thus, providing the listener not only with the musical attributes, but also with the exact artistic context is a mistake, because disappointment is always behind the corner and it will stitch you up at the first occasion. But Strangelight are a bunch of confident people.
Girls Against Boys, Quicksand, Shipping News, Unsane, Crownhate Ruin, Don Caballero, June of 44 and Rodan: bands with almost nothing in common, but which unconsciously shared the same lo-fi-approach-to-a-grandiosely-minimalistic-sound principle. A contradiction is terms? Maybe, but only from a literal point of view. In musical terms, instead, this mix of hardcore and post-rock made sense because of its geniality and eclectic nature, and gave us an enormous amount of albums that still sound amazingly contemporary.
Strangelight are a supergroup with members from Made Out of Babies, Mussels, Goes Cube, Thursday, Bad Powers, United Nations and a bunch of other acts. For this reason, you can expect a certain amount of that heterogeneousness which flourished in some areas of North America right before grunge came to obliterate the good and the bad, the worthy and the fraudulent of what was a trend, rather than a genre.
9 Days was recorded in, well, 9 days and its immediacy is promptly clear from the start, when “Split and Divide” betrays a certain taste for angular, apparently dissonant themes that appear as a declaration of (brave) intents. Geoff Rickly, Brendan Tobin, Cooper, Kenneth Appel and John Niccoli do not reinterpret or add anything unequivocally new to the amalgam that was presented to them during their adolescence: they follow their inclinations, but their inclinations have their roots somewhere between Washington DC and their memory. All of them.
There is a Slint-esque presence, at times, which is highlighted on tracks like “Xmas” and “High Five Hailstorm”, when the tension is translated into melodies and quiet mumbles and the percussive patterns, signalled by the drums and the bass, are religiously followed by the guitars and a wise use of distortions.
So what has suddenly happened to the last 20 years? Are Strangelight vaguely aware of the immense array of changes (most of which were deleterious and useless) music has undergone while they were doing their thing with their own bands? Probably not, but they don’t seem to care. Melodic, but not mainstream, fresh, but dated, “9 Days” appears to enjoy toying with nostalgia and, believe it or not, it does not disappoint. Probably not the best debut ever, but it will be interesting to see how these influences and alliances play out over time, if at all.
Label: Sacrament Records
Release Dates: Out worldwide on 10.08.2013