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The first full Amp album establishes what would remain the basic sound of the band well enough, showing the ill-defined lineup (eight performers are credited in toto) to be at once firmly within the "Bristol sound" -- post-shoegaze semi-Kraut inspired experimental blissout -- yet at the same time, to be their own distinct group as part of the same semi-scene. Though comparisons to his efforts in Flying Saucer Attack are unavoidable, David Pearce relies much more on a combination of traditionalism and extremism, while Amp just aim for the skies and leave the Tom Rapp and Bert Jansch links behind. Opening number "Souvenir" demonstrates this as well as any, with massive blasts of delayed and reverbed feedback rising and falling in waves, while vocals are obscure at best and drums barely emerge from the beautiful murk (though the bassline is generally strong throughout). Given how consistently strong the album is, selecting standout tracks can be hard. "Rave Mantra," which sounds like something to be played only at the most chilled dance events, is especially fine with its disorienting mix of murky sounds and drums, heavily echoed vocals, and slightly spooky ambience. Not everything is full-on noise, as more droning numbers like "Frieze" and the closing serenity of "So Be It" quite happily demonstrate. While Karine Charff handles most of the vocals, she might as well be credited with performing another instrument; though her effect is not like that of Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, for instance, what lyrics there are can't be readily understood. When she shines best, though, as she does during the latter half of the astonishing "Merry Go Down" -- layered sung and spoken vocals mixed with the shimmering noise and rough percussion loops -- it's quite lovely indeed. Guitar and drum noises take precedence on Sirenes, but other instruments leaven the blend at points; the gentle piano on the brief "November" is one fine example, while "Matilda's Shorts Wave" actually has a clear electronic rhythm, though it definitely doesn't qualify as techno.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick