Life Coach

Alphawaves

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AllMusic Review by

Alphawaves, the debut album from Trans Am founder Phil Manley's project Life Coach, opens with the sound of stereo-delayed chimes and creaky sitar on "Sunrise," meditating for a moment before launching into the one-chord Krautrock exercise of the album's seven-minute title track. Produced masterfully, and executed skillfully, the song's propulsive rhythms and aimless guitar noodling come a little too close to the Neu! and Harmonia tracks that inspired them, risking mere copycat status of a music that was perfected the first time around. Somewhere around the three-minute mark, however, the song breaks wide open with syncopated snare rolls waging war with frenzied harmonized guitar leads of near Satriani levels of metallic virtuosity. Left-field twists like this highlight just how different Life Coach actually are from the Krautrock and '70s psych blueprints they often read from. Jazz-informed post-rock flourishes touch the drumming throughout the album, and given Manley's history with both Trans Am's electro nostalgia and his work producing freak rock acts like Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips, there's space made for gooey ambient guitars and laser-guided bass synth lines alike. "Limitless Possibilities" comes on with the airy hippie atmospherics of Popol Vuh but quickly dissolves into a firecracker rhythm that fuels the rest of the song's beat-driven push. While drummer Jon Theodore is the heartbeat of the band, the fits and starts of formless areas throughout the album are just as necessary to its overall dynamic. The wandering, electric Miles-styled floatiness of "Into the Unknown" makes sense somehow against the hard-psych biker rock of "Fireball" or the Day-Glo metal chug of "Mind's Eye." With overt nods to the signature styles of several different bands, Life Coach still see the sounds on Alphawaves through their own distinct viewfinder. The post-rock sheen, radiant guitar tones, and rich palette of different sounds are all driven home by Life Coach speeding full-throttle into whatever various territories the cyclical album's songs take them to.

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