Aug 20, 2013 Web Exclusive
Uh-oh, No Age is messin' with the formula. Their sound had its expansion and now it's time to retract a little, to lean toward some of those punk roots rather than reveling in all that blissful guitar/noise wash. Okay, maybe some reveling, but this one does come out swinging, exemplified by songs like opener "No Ground," with its driving, staccato riff and singer/drummer Dean Sprunt doing a kind of Thurston Moore punk shout, or "C'mon Stimmung" and "Lock Box," both served up Ramones-style with three-chord simplicity and Sprunt channeling a little Joey here and there (with occasional bursts of Dee Dee).
Sprunt also showed up with a few new sonic weapons behind the drum kit, in the form of contact mics, "prepared speakers," and some good ol' bass guitar. The bass is welcome on tunes such as "No Ground"—always a sigh of relief for many of us when guitar two-pieces supplement the low end. Or check out "I Won't Be Your Generator," where the bass is delivered via one of those aforementioned speakers, all broken and abuzz. The contact mics reveal themselves in crunchy midrange tom roll sounds on "Circling with Dizzy" or the almost drum-machine-like percussion gracing "An Impression." There's always an undercurrent of sputtering, beat-up electronics running through No Age's music, and when the arrangements are roped in from shoegaze atmospherics, these jump forward and dominate the album's texture.
In line with those punkier leanings, No Age created and assembled all the album packaging here, "taking on the role of manufacturer, artist, and musician," as their bio puts it. A tad rich, perhaps, but regardless of the depth of one's own DIY ethos, "the whole package" (if there is to be a package at all in these digital days) is as crucial as the music itself. So sure, they are manufacturers, hand-constructing their music and its delivery system, leaving nails and other detritus sitting around the job site for your consideration. Artisan punk? (www.noagela.org)
Author rating: 6.5/10
Average reader rating: 5/10