Review Summary: Basic instrumental rock without a permanent bass and cheap production
As I load Eksperimentoj’s home page, “The sound of silence” flashes across my screen. I’m worried. Already, I can smell the pretentiousness dripping out of my computer monitor. The Flash opening continues and the band’s name fades into view. Twice. In two different fonts. I’m worried. Once I figure out that I need to click on one of the names to progress, I move into another flash animation, and the solar system unfolds itself into more links including one to a section of the site called “liberalism,” which leads to a section of random links to random drawings like an archaic Radiohead website. I’m worried. Taking a look at the tracklist, I see a variety of track names that at least make the solar system layout make sense, with songs like “Planetalium” and “Solaris.” But I’m still worried, there’s a song dedicated to Kurt Cobain. Moving along to their MySpace, I see they have Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead and Godspeed You! Black Emperor on their top friends, yet their two main genres are rock and progressive. Now I’m not just worried, but confused as well. Not to mention their Japanese and played a few shows with countrymates Mono. They have two guitar players and drummer, although they claim to have a “tenor guitarist” and an “alto guitarist.” While I may be judging a book by its cover here, I am not excited to hear this album.
The album loads into iTunes; I see I have 75 minutes of music to plow through. “Planetalium” attempts to serve as a powerful intro with cymbal swells and quickly picked guitar chords played in the supposed “alto” range, but everyone has heard this before and they do very little to execute it better than anyone else. What’s more, the song hardly fits the context of the album, as more driving distorted guitars make up most of the album’s riffing (tributing a song to Kurt Cobain actually fits the sound). In fact, after the opening, the band hardly allows any placidity into their sound, instead opting for sloppy noise and feedback as the nuances in the sound. Furthermore, the closed production style condenses the entire sound into one small ball instead of letting it spread out and reverberate. While the musical atmosphere calls for a more expansive sound, the effect is more of a garage band, a cross between grunge sloppiness and shoegaze lo-fi that fails to efficiently bring out the musicality of these performances.
Despite these drawbacks, the album has its redeeming qualities. The vocals actually fit into the production atmosphere well, a shaky voice with very little tune, almost emulating a young Billy Corgan. Still, the band focuses on instrumentals more than vocals, and compositionally the music has some nice moments. Consistently, the interplay between the “alto” and “tenor” guitars works well, and each mini-section of their songs progresses naturally. Unfortunately, the music fails to complete itself, and nothing ties the larger songs together. The sound hardly ever deviates from the typical two guitar attack, and while the lower guitar voice provides a sort of bass voice, the addition of a true bass would surely fill out the sound.
All in all, Eksperimentoj’s outer veneer proves a good foreshadowing to their music. Sure, the band is clearly passionate about their art, but critically they still have some work to do. The sound lacks originality and, while talented, their guitars skills bring nothing new to the table.