Why does it seems like drum and bass bands can rock just as hard or harder than any standard three- or four- piece? When I think I of duo’s that can bring it I think of Death From Above 1979 and Lightning Bolt. The latest duo to bring some intensity is MICROPANiK comprised of JC Blain (drums) and JS Vaillancourt (bass). Their latest effort entitled Arbos is a four-song EP that they consider “alternative electronica rock music.” After spending some time with the EP I’d say it’s fair to say the electronic elements feels more ornamental than anything else most of the time. The distorted bass and organic drums are in the foreground here while the electronic elements are lightly peppered throughout. Used even less on the EP are their vocals. There aren’t any catchy hooks here. The singing feels almost sporadic yet not forced.
Up first is “Monochrome” and for those of those you who remember the band The Faint there are some similarities to that band along with the kinetic energy you might hear from Death From Above 1979 or even Queens Of The Stone Age. The way they use the electronic synth is unique on this song. During the verse the synth acts as the main melody like a vocal would but then when the chorus comes your attention goes to the bass line. The singer occasionally yells out a “Hey” or “Yeah” but it feels rather marginal compared to what else is going on. Overall, it’s a strong opener with some interesting dynamics.
“Wake Up, WTF” is another solid song. The melodies are strong and around a minute in I thought I was going to be treated to a full on vocal performance but it turned out to be a tease. He sings, “Look up to the sky / It’s full of stars / we are falling down lights / are fading away” and that's kind of it till one more phrase later in the song. I have ambivalent feelings about this approach to vocals but I have to say it’s original.
“Tech Sturm” gives up some of the energy for atmosphere. They utilize a vocal sample of some kind while a cascading synth plays. Cymbals start to crash and intensity starts to slowly rise and then deflate. It’s a mood piece that veers towards a different direction for the band.
They close with the eight-plus-minute “Rouvre Les Yeux, WTF” which combines some of their ambient proclivities and the rocking out they display on the first two songs. The band brings back a familiar palette of synth sounds. I was digging the tune and around the six-minute mark the song slowly fades into white noise and an arpeggiated synth. They go out with more of a whimper then a bang.
Arbos is a solid EP. There are some good ideas and I think most of them pan out. That being said I think their best work lies ahead. Word on the street is the duo is working on a full length. Stay tuned.
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