Thick Nothing is a split EP between Carnal Unit and ADM. Carnal Unit is a project amongst a group of people that have lived and played together for some time. That being said this is a new project. I’m not sure what their previous material sounded like but I’m happy they decided to start playing together as Carnal Unit. They have an utterly unique sound that combines electronic elements, harmonized vocals, synths and organic instruments. The other half of the EP is ADM, which is the solo project of Adam Petersen who plays drums in Carnal Unit and brings his own originality to the EP. This EP fuses together experimental tendencies with a pop sensibility that creates a thoroughly diverse yet enjoyable experience.
The first song is “Sachristy” from Carnal Unit and starts with a meditative sound that seemed to combine cut up vocal samples before a lead synth is introduced and the sample dissolves. The song quickly stabilizes as drums and vocals are introduced. I am always a sucker for vocal harmonizes involving both sexes and this delivers them with meticulous care and timing – sometimes singing together, while at other times leaving the male lead alone. Their ability to interweave the vocal phrases must be listened to in order to be fully appreciated. Not since other contemporaries such as the Dirty Projectors have I enjoyed a band’s ability not only to harmonize but also to create enough variation within the songs to make me care. The harmonizes aside the song is incredibly catchy and has a ridiculously infectious Amazonian type chorus.
The second track “Four Nothing” comes from ADM, which is a rhythmically adventurous yet sparse song that hangs in the air almost ready to fall apart at a moment’s notice. Instead of falling apart you start to get the feeling that every single step has been thought out. The electronic piano creates a warm atmosphere but the complexity of the percussion is what makes your ears pay attention. The vocals are viscerally charged emotional surges that arise on occasion.
So I knew right away these kids are more talented then your average musician but wasn’t expecting the emotional reawakening that is displayed on the third track from Carnal Unit “The Thick.” This is the kind of emotion that might be expected from Antony and the Johnsons but I wasn’t quite expecting from these guys. The song starts with piano and vocals and gradually builds with strings, a crescendo and harmonizes.
The last and longest song on the album “Lantern” is from ADM whom I’m guessing was classically trained on the piano. Some would consider the piano piece avant-garde but I think it’s just really good. I was so focused on the complex timing that I was a bit shocked to hear vocals pop in a little after the two-minute mark.
After listening to this EP anybody who knows anything about music will realize that all these individuals are incredibly gifted. I got the sense that this is what these guys do most of the time. They studied theory, know how to clap out 7/8 time and probably listen to John Cage and Penderecki. I may not listen to another standard rock song in 4/4 for quite some time. This four-song EP was a wonderful teaser and left me thirsty for a full-length EP from both artists.
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