The American Dollar
A Memory Stream


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
October 20th, 2008 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chill, gorgeous, warm, inviting, embracing, enveloping

I recently hiked above Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and saw some of the most ancient existing Native American ruins on the continent. Despite not having a camera, the scenes were forever imprinted upon my mind. I will never forget standing over Pueblo Bonito or looking up at the ruined walls of Pueblo Alto and New Alto. Events like this create mental images that never leave, scenes that artists can paint years after seeing it for the first time. Everyone has their musical accompaniment to the magnificence of nature. The American Dollar's A Memory Stream fits this category well, but in a different sense than most. Instead of creating the cliff walls with melodies, it takes a more impressionist point of view – impressionist in the visual sense. Everything blurs together, but always there lies a majesty beneath the layers of sound.

In their third album in three years, the duo of John Emanuele and Rich Cupolo expand upon their already beautiful sound presented on The American Dollar and A Technicolor Sleep. Much like Hammock, they overdub endless amounts of keyboard and guitar, but unlike Hammock's love of tone and ambience, The American Dollar relies more on traditional melodic concepts with lush harmonizations and accompaniment. Relating back to their previous work, their newest ties everything together for a more cohesive product. Where A Technicolor Sleep seemed more like individual songs tied together arbitrarily, A Memory Stream obviously divides into three cohesive sections of music.

The first section encompasses the first four tracks - “The Slow Wait (1)”- “Bump.” They flow perfectly, more like one lengthy song than four separate miniatures. The entirety of “Bump” justifies the buildup towards it with dynamic drumming and swirling polyphony. While at first the divisions between track seem rather arbitrary, the divisions mark changes in melodic theme and tempo. The first two tracks share the same title, but the second movement puts the first movement in double time, raising the intensity to hint at what “Bump” capitalizes upon. In sound, the entire section is unique due to its heavy use of the organ sound for harmony and basic chord structure. If these first four tracks were released as a short EP, they might comprise one of the best EPs of the year.

Broken up by the short “Intermission”, the next section returns to the song-based style of A Technicolor Sleep. Every song is an excellent example of The American Dollar's core sound – synths, pianos, and guitars, and a smart mix of acoustic and electric drums all combining to create one unique sound. Here, the comparison to Hammock applies the most, especially relating to their sophomore album Raising Your Voice... Trying to Stop an Echo. None of the songs connect to each other particularly well, and none stick out in context. Instead, it is an endless stream (no pun intended) of sound that simply soothes and relaxes, creating a more sublime experience than a cathartic, moving one. The juxtaposition of the two first sections allows for great variety in the album despite similar sound throughout each song.

The third section is all of one track, but a 12 minute one, marking by far the longest song in the duo's career. “Starscapes” simply condenses the first section into one track rather than breaking everything up by melodic theme. Even in structure it follows a similar format – introducing a main theme then putting it into double time with an energetic drum beat, and bringing it down one final time to build to a climax. “Starscapes” has a longer denouement than “Bump” had, but in essence the last four minutes of “Starscapes” achieves the same end. Harmonically, however, the song is more based around atmosphere and ambience than melody. This change allows the song to not feel like a rehash of the album's opening, showing yet another side to this prolific duo.

While these three sections all work well individually, they seem too disjointed from one another to really constitute being on the same album. Often times, it makes more sense to simply listen to one of the sections, depending on the listener's wants at the time. The album is only 50 minutes long, but it feels much longer. For a post-rock fan, the second section could have lost a few songs, but those who prefer brevity will probably prefer that section. It caters to many different people, which is a hidden benefit of the album's disjointed nature. Still, the sound is beautiful, the melodies affecting, and at most times the harmonic motion creates a cathartic result that the duo has never achieved with much success before this album. A Memory Stream not only shows growth in The American Dollar, but also puts them on top of many of their contemporaries, creating a consistently excellent album, although its excellence comes in various ways.



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user ratings (94)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
poweroftheweez
October 20th 2008


1290 Comments


Holy balls, nice review man. I think I'll check this out.This Message Edited On 10.20.08

honourosis
October 20th 2008


63 Comments


my friend told me to listen to one of their songs i didn't really dig it

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2008


15743 Comments


hey this is a good review you should do one for vessels

Doppelganger
October 20th 2008


3124 Comments


sounds cool

daniel58
October 20th 2008


16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great albumThis Message Edited On 11.22.08

joshuatree
Emeritus
October 20th 2008


3742 Comments


band is good

natey
October 23rd 2008


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The album art is really inviting.

JumpTheF**kUp
October 24th 2008


2716 Comments


must listen to this

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 28th 2008


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bumpumpumpump

72Alexander27
February 7th 2010


49 Comments


I want to like this album, it really does utilize more variety in it's sound than say ExplosionsITS. It is a tad too familiar, but the piano work and it's tempo really set it apart. Deserves nothing less than a 4.

CelestialDust
May 5th 2010


3157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

need to get this, Anything You Synthesize is amazing

CelestialDust
September 19th 2010


3157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bumpbumpbumpbumpbump this album is mesmerizing. it makes nature so much more interesting...perfect for driving at night too

Powerbanned
October 15th 2010


39 Comments


good to listen to in the dark with headphones. really spaces you out.

it's quite similar to helios, but more rewarding.

and i agree Anything You Synthesize is amazing. yet another "good" post-rock band going unnoticed.

CelestialDust
January 22nd 2011


3157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bumpity bump

HBFS
May 23rd 2011


1294 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

anything you synthesize is so fucking beautiful

AutoRock
January 16th 2012


421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is pure bliss.

eternium
March 8th 2012


16340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

God this sounds amazing right now.

AutoRock
January 17th 2013


421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Altough the newer stuff kinda blows. This is still great. If I were to make a movie, I would definitly sneak Call and Anything you Synthesize in.

RadicalEd
May 21st 2014


2847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anything you synthesize. Dayum.

Digging: ODESZA - In Return



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