Greenhouse is Ryan Torres and Rex Hudson based in Denton, Texas and is a creator of its own world of electronic emotion with guitars, synthesizers, drums and the occasional vocals. The Last Shred of Night is their second album. Jamming your sophomore effort with 29 tracks means one of three things: you're on a creative high, the slump is hitting you so bad you're back is breaking under the pressure or you're Melt-Banana. Greenhouse is ostensibly not Melt-Banana, so that leaves two options.
The Last Shred of Night is a staggering listen not so much from the music but from the amount of music the album boasts (well over an hour before I stopped mentally doing the math). The music is lightly textured with exotic beats and intriguing sound effects. At times the tempos approach the dance celebration of Daft Punk, other times it glistens like Tortoise's later sounds. Short musical patterns with little variation means you can decide if you enjoy a track or not usually within the first 20 seconds of listening. Granted, tempo can become erratic from track to track but usually they select a speed and stick with it on the songs themselves. Mostly instrumental, the entire album seems to focus on song experiments regarding what tone to invoke with seemingly limited resources. Samples, oscillations, drones, synthesizers, techno, EDM and dub - all are present at some point or another. Some of it is fantastic, such as the electropicalia of "I Am Losing Memories By Being In Here." However, an album this long, it's almost impossible to maintain quality throughout.
There are certain tracks that don't feel like they belong here, and as such the album loses steam toward the end (the last several tracks especially exercised my patience by the time I got to them). None of the weak tracks are so bad as to be insulting, but they do meander. Though disproportionate, Greenhouse strikes gold several times.
The jarring 8-bit mess of "The Tale of the Phone Police" captures your attention early on with its undulations from buzzing sound bites to much more agreeable synthesizers. "Conspiracy Vs. The Fog of War" is a jazzier number with a summer sunset feel to it, nice simple drumming with again tropical sound bites such as the surf rock guitar used in the song. "Mind Drift, Time Slip" sounds like an odd mix between Pink Floyd space travel and The Police's own brand of 80s melancholy. Then there are the fun tracks where you can spot references to famous predecessors, such as "A Starlight Etc." with its sample of the memorable into to The Brothers Johnson's "Strawberry Letter 23."
The Last Shred of Night is all over the place with intent, transporting the listener to musical locales with a rapidity and length that is not normally found in many albums these days. The good news is there is a lot of material to search through to figure out what best suits your needs, and that's the problem as well. There is a certain feel to the album and though many songs on it share a sameness in sonic texture and tone color, there is also enough variety to warrant an exploration.
So, creative high or under pressure? Even after listening I'm too sure which camp I'm in.
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