Monday, 6 October 2014

EP Review - AmatrArt - AmatrArt

Artists’ self-sanctioned spelling reforms are becoming more common.  Equally modish are the logos emblazoned on the album covers of almost every alternative music rocker.  AmatrArt, the Glasgow quartet being au courant with the indie music vogue, seem content in dropping vowels two and five from their moniker and also opting for a severed double-tepee logo of sorts, the linear diffractions of light muted only by the subtly blended backdrop of turquoise and lilac.  Cynicism aside, the Glasgow four-piece fully justify their post-modern appellation and trademark through their eponymous EP.

From the outset AmatrArt focus on tonal character.  Forget About Last Time  enkindles warmth and opens with a backmasked, dreamy synthetic musical phrase.  The muted 808 drums and breathy vocals are accompanied by a waltzing guitar that builds into an arresting double chorus, the second half of which is elevated by rich vocal harmonies and a bass guitar melody.  The drum machine is put into full use in the second verse and the lead singer’s vocals become more adventurous, with moments reminiscent of Wild Beast’s Hayden Thorpe, and develop a subtle rhoticity, giving the group identity.

The undeniably complicated Delirium Tremens  opens with a simple breath.  Wailing hums and echoing vocals act as an addled communiqué demanding the listener’s attention.  The rack-tom rhythm and synthetic hits serve as a fantastic backdrop to the entwined guitar and bass accompaniments.  The airy synth builds into a quiet crescendo prior to the dizzying verse.  The chorus is mellow while the second verse is more immediate and the lead singer tests his vocal range and lyrical aptitude.  An interlude of guitar chops and commanding beats is followed by a heavy bass and drum sub-mix before the track descends into a delirious melee, with voce di strega and effect-laden guitars at the fore.  The outro is the standout moment in the EP, which is brilliantly introduced on the backdrop of the pedal-driven madness.  The rushing ride cymbals and rhythm guitar create an apparent change in tempo and the vocals are evocative.

The EP culminates with recent single Souls,  described by the band as a song about their love for the colours green, red, blue and yellow.  Whether this was a conscious statement or not, what it represents is pure abstraction and a vision of the Glasgow four-piece in bringing together the sensations and sound of pure colour.  The dark background hums, bright dance claps, heavy piano drops, acoustic guitar melodies and reverse tapping of this track work well.  The numerous influences of the band and styles afforded are evident and the soulful vocal of the soloist is noteworthy.

Some would argue that AmatrArt belong to that much vilified portmanteau, indietronica – a sub-genre in which groups are too often criticised for their lack of instrumentation and deliberate phlegmatism.  There is no doubt that the Glasgow quartet remain a representation of the original.  However this debut EP establishes them as Orphists in the indie electronica scene, breaking away from the negative associations and focusing on the expression and significance of their sound to construct new forms and colour harmonies.

- Andrew Kidd

AmatrArt - AmatrArt  is out now via Del Trem Records and can be purchased from all good online music retailers including iTunes and Amazon.

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