Album Review : Slack Armada's S/T EP


For a genre that sets the stage for experimentation electronica tends to fall under the safe confines of serving the beat.The self titled Ep by Chicago's Slack Armada, branches out and infuses the space rock of 90's shoe gaze into it's music in a much more graceful manner than you would expect.  Having been a fan of this sort of thing in my drug addled youth, it's resurgence , if even at an underground level makes me pretty pleased.

James Hrabak is the mastermind behind this moving tapestry of otherworldly sonics that  simmers to life in the dreamlike state of  the opener "Rebirth". A subtle down-tempo pattern holds the songs foundation for opiate sheen of guitars that ring out. The song ebbs back down to the pulse of the bass line, before it takes on new form riding an astral groove.


  Passages of synth strings at times flow like something from a Tangerine Dream album. Hitting the similar uplifting sweet spots that older Sigur Ros does, but these songs take you on a intergalactic exploration rather than a fairy wonderland .  There is an undercoating of electronic bleeps and glitched twinkles floating below the surface."if" you were going to get stoned and drive around looking at X-mas lights next week, this would be the perfect sound track for that endeavor.

Be forewarned before embarking on a psychedelic exploration  the beginning of this EP seems to encourage, make sure your foot is not on the gas when the 3rd song starts up.  The moving thump of the bass line to "Looper" jarred me from the trance like state the beginning of the album has held me in.


A hight hat tinged dance like vibe glides  "Escape Velocity" into the more wavering tremolo associated with the  My Bloody Valentine influenced brands of shoe-gaze .This element bubbles to the surface midway through the song. This transition is smooth despite being the least expect direction you might suspect the song is going in, which is why it creates such a striking dynamic. The droning abrasion  My Bloody Valentine touches upon, is invoked but in a much smoother fashion to bring the song to a close.

Hrabak has woven together some great sounds, the EP is pretty pristine in production. It holds up in the quality to any of the heavy hitter crafting this sort of thing. It is an albums you can leave on repeat and not notice that you have been listening to it all after noon, so it doesn't demand repeat listens as much as it lulls you into them. The shoe gaze elements are naturally introduction and never forced even though they are implemented in a some what surprising manner in terms of dynamics.