Review Summary: With his unique combination of post-hardcore mini epics and large vast ambience and soundscapes, Burke will take you on an adventure like no other with PTEWAS. And is setting up to be one of more overlooked records this decade.
New York City: known to be the greatest city in the world. I have been blessed to enjoy the life of living in Queens (a borough of NYC). As an avid music listener, and a musician, the city is a great place for me to wander and explore to ponder and find inspiration when listening to music. I usually like walking during the cloudy days or dark nights up and down empty streets. There are multiple albums I could list that I listen to upon pondering although Pierce The Empire With A Sound (written by The Out Circuit) is one of the more unique albums I have which provide a rather eclectic music listening experience.
The Out Circuit is the one-man project of the ex-Frodus bassist Nathan Burke. At its core, The Out Circuit is an experimental rock band going in and out of ambient soundscapes, indie rock, post rock, and at times oddball hardcore. The songs individually may feel odd, but album as a whole Pierce The Empire With A Sound provides one beast of a listening experience.
I have not heard much from Frodus (few random tracks then and there). The song "Come Out Shooting" kicks open with a gnarly raw bass and weird synths over a tight drum pattern. The rawness is something old Frodus fans could find reminiscent of Burke's older work. The song features the screaming vocals from Sean Ingram of Coalesce (Side note: there are a number of guests spots which will go into as the review goes deeper.) This goes right into the track Passchendale which gives ways to soft soundscapes and soft soothing vocals reminiscent of Radiohead.
The album continues through with a mysterious feel as it progresses through different tracks. On "The Contender" The Out Circuit goes Post-Hardcore with a driving thick bass line and a tight drum pattern and features guest vocals of Dustin Kensure from Thrice. The thick bass tones and tight drums also drive halfway in the instrumental "Hexagon" when the soft piano chords are not contouring the sound.
Other songs worth mentioning are "The Fall of Las Vegas" which goes back into the screamoness over a single synth and drums by Sean Ingram. Teppei from Thrice plays guitar on the soft pop of "New Wine" (in addition to producing/mixing the record).The best song (debatable) on the album is the song "Across The Light.” Which finds a perfect blend and balance with the rhythm section and atmospherics over the soft vocals of Nathan and Rachel Burke. The album closer "Scarlet" is an extremely soothing song with soft baby lush keyboard tones and low-key drums, ending the album beautifully. Overall, there are not any true flaws in the albums other than the album feeling slightly inconsistent (although it is experimental so what can you expect...).
It is a very ridiculous comparison. But combined Radiohead's Kid A and Thrice's Vheissu (ironic since Dustin and Teppei were involved) and somewhere in middle you get Pierce The Empire With A Sound. With this, The Out Circuit's balance with the driving rhythm section and open soundscapes with a variety of vocals create one of the unique experimental albums of the year. If you are fan of (new) Thrice , Radiohead, Frodus and similar experimental bands I highly suggest you check this project out.
Also check out http://www.virb.com/theoutcircuit/music/albums/18866 for additional tracks from the album.