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Liquid Collapse, the new album from Detroit based audio manipulators Erase0, may be the breakthrough the band has yet to find. It’s their strongest, most confident release to date and features what would be several hits if only the rest of the world were as hip as these guys.
Erase0 (erase zero) have been harsh in the past, marrying screech with blastbeats and distorting everything, even the electric guitars. Or they’ve been trippy, spacing out with far out techno soundscapes and heavily processed acoustic instruments. They got angular and cold with synth driven thrash and crafted affecting oddpop with moody vocals over sparse electronica.
But not until this latest effort have they been all of those things at once.
Wielding the fruits of past aural experiments and irregularities like weapons the band has become a sort of sonic ninja, infusing tracks like “All Bright Colors Dark” and “When Beneath” with an unrelenting drive that belies their brooding malaise. Giving life to bleak despair with haunting minimalist compositions, Erase0 have gone down the musical rabbit hole and come out the other side better for the experience. Retaining their urban found-sound roots while embracing the far off and exotic (“Horn Of Bananas“) offers the group a whole new ballgame of sonic textures to exploit, not to mention instruments to misuse. Densely arranged percussion tracks run rampant through fields of deconstructed arpeggios; twitchy bass rumblings bounce under bisecting guitar chatter. Dissonance dances with carefully arranged vocal harmonies, crafting engaging yet challenging songs that reveal themselves over multiple listens.
Their second release, Some Sounds Are Noise, while as dramatically varied as their debut, managed to sustain a cohesive direction, a clarity of vision that linked the songs as surely as if they shared a common narrative. One track flowed seamlessly into the next in an aural tapestry ten layers thick, touching on jazz, techno, funk and even garage noise-rock with “False Pendulum.” Some Sounds Are Noise never got the recognition it deserved, despite the track “Conduits” being downloaded over six million times after it was featured in an ad for condoms in Sweden.
With this new batch of material built on the rich harmonies mined on last year’s Raison D’Etre and songs like “Pulsing With You,” everyone is in top form and the album plays like a UFO party for automatons hosted by a gang of hooligans. This music bubbles and sizzles with life; herky jerky polyrhythms sometimes made up of nothing more than distorted fragments glide around twisty basslines and repetitive but deceptively complex drum patterns. Like a punch to the face the varied textures announce themselves, crashing and jabbing for your attention as unexpectedly smooth pads drip over everything like cool liquid goo in “Left Feeling Strangled,” a crackling cauldron of tones both punctured and piercing.
Guitarists Roy Diens and Steve Callaway play good cop/bad cop on “Marbula’s Pandemon #2,” their processed feedback doing surprisingly melodic battle. It’s hard to tell where the band ends and their tools begin as they’re just as likely to incorporate loops and samples into their repertoire as malfunctioning electronics and “kitchen sink” percussion. They use silence as well, creating huge spaces and building anticipation before throwing a curveball right through your expectations. Drummer and vocalist Bruno isn’t afraid to make a mess with beats that swing and pound, sometimes exploding on the kit and other times dissolving into nothingness. With both synthesizers and electric basses as well as simple pitched tones, Arthur Lambiase forms a low end that never seems to sit still for long while keyboardist and sampler extraordinaire David Moore concocts itchy, scraping atmospheres that evoke technology gone wild and mankind run rampant.
And it grooves, too, when it wants to, or when the machines want to, as most of Liquid Collapse sounds like the band allowed the instruments and gadgets to play themselves. And maybe that’s been the intent all along for Erase0, to create a chaotic harmony between human musicians, their adventurous compositions and the sometimes unpredictable nature of their decidedly unorthodox gizmos. Seamlessly blending the haphazard and the calculated with disparate loops and inspired lunacy, the album is a triumph for both the band and its audience.