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ELECTRIC ASSEMBLY – White Splinter (Dream Driven Recordings, CDEP)

Posted: September 21st, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

Electric Assembly are old school. Oooooold skoooooool. A post-rockin’ quartet fresh outta god knows where (probably London), they’ve been smacking out the jams for nigh-on five years, but this new EP could seriously have come out any time in the last fifteen years. Drones? Check. Shoegazing guitars through a million delay pedals? Check. Some ultra-simplistic chord changes and minimal drum patterns? Check. Electric Assembly describe themselves as “The Velvet Underground plays Boards Of Canada produced by Kevin Shields arranged by Sun Ra listened to by Syd Barrett”, but I think I can do it in one word: Spiritualized.

Opener ‘Descent Pattern’ (iTunes likes to call it “Desent Pattern”, which I kinda prefer) is pretty much an intro that goes on for 4 minutes. A strummed guitar spends a while setting the scene, eventually joined by more guitar, drums and some lovely booming bass that lumbers in on the horizon like a nuclear bomber flying overhead. Reminds me quite a bit of when Six By Seven knocked out a couple of decent tunes back in ’97. Just when it’s reaching a peak it stops and meanders into the next song…

Second track “11:43” is actually 19 minutes and 22 seconds long and seems to take even longer to get going. All multi-delayed soaring guitars over laid back clean guitar strumming and a pretty slow four-on-the-floor backbeat, the first few minutes are pretty dull to be honest. It sounds like the lead guitarist is having a great time, but I can just imagine the bassist turning his eyes to the floor and wondering when something’s going to happen. I’m as much a fan as the delayed build-up as anyone (hey, the first Tarentel album was pretty much just a series of build-ups and crescendos, and  it’s got some real moments on it), but when the 11:43 mark finally hits and all that’s still happening is that the guitarist is still wanking off a hot one, I wonder if this track is anything more than a self-indulgent extended jam. Then I start wondering about vinegar strokes with guitar solos and it’s time to move on. That’s 20 minutes of my life I’d like back, please.

“Broken” starts out a little more promisingly, with some nice keyboard or processed guitar layers with the tone backed all the way off to make ’em sound more like Stars Of The Lid from back in the day. It’s complemented by some nice understated bass, and then some half-sung vocals and some slow arpeggiated guitar. It’s a nice contrast to the preceding track, even though it sounds not far off a drummerless cover of Joy Division’s circa “Atmosphere”. Obviously it’s not as good as that though. Pleasant as the vocals are, the guy singing ’em sure ain’t a vocalist, as some of the phrasing is awkward to say the least. A guitar starts feedbacking nicely towards the end to highlight the melodicism and treads a very fine line between ‘nice’ and ‘total cheese’.

“Wipe the sun off your shoes” is the final track and is another mantra of repeated chord sequences as the guitarist slowly gets his jig on again and starts soaring up, up and away. And that’s it. Five minutes of build-up and then it peters out again quite quickly. It’s quite a nice understated song for the most part, even if the drums sound like they’re sampled from ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’.

Overall, Electric Assembly are defiantly not following current fashion, which can only be applauded. However, they do seem to be defiantly following something that went out of fashion a few years ago. That’s not a bad thing either, but the thing is, there’s nothing here that I haven’t heard a few thousand times before, and usually done a fair bit better. I hate writing negative reviews but this is some seriously uninspiring shit right here: Must try harder.

Anyway, ‘White Splinter’ has been released in a limited edition of 100 CDs in swanky hardboard hand-painted covers and they’re a-running out already. Get yourself over the band’s website to hear some of this music and purchase a copy if you’re a more forgiving person than me:

Electric Assembly website

Electric Assembly Myspace

Dream Driven Records website

Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


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