Tuesday, November 24, 2009

review: All Your Science Volume 2

All Your Science
Volume 2
Self-released, 2009

Review by Andrew

The new album from Durham duo All Your Science is appropriately titled Volume 2 given that it follows their debut Volume 1 and that this second record seems, in some ways, a continuation of their first effort. The sound of the sophomore work is nearly identical to the first record's clean but lo-fi feel, which certainly isn't a bad thing. The guitar and drums (and other assorted instruments) and sparse vocals echo on each song like you're standing in a dimly lit basement watching the band live. It's the perfect sound for All Your Science. As far as the songs on Volume 2, the band has not strayed too far from their difficult to describe style of shoegaze meets drum and bass meets indie rock. However, on this latest effort, it's clear that the band has taken more time to fully realize their ideas, adding unexpected instruments and some really interesting rhythms.

"Club de Sons" opens the record with Dave Z. laying down a quick, almost tribal drum beat that guitarist Lu Lubenstein quickly tags along with, playing bent, surf rock guitar notes that fall into the gaps of the staccato rhythm. The sparse and clean guitar sounds almost cheerful, but also haunting before finally devolving into a distorted musical car crash in the final twenty seconds. Both members sing on "This Time," a slow song about lost love that floats along on a gentle lilting guitar riff and plodding drums. The song has a catchy chorus that sounds honest and actually quite pretty with the duo's voices simultaneously clashing and meshing.

The songs “Burried” and “Powder Down” both feature intricate playing by this pair, while also demonstrating a new versatility. “Burried” contains a few brief measures of banjo playing that could not be more unexpected or welcome. The guitar line the banjo apes is an intricate, almost metal sounding riff that—both on guitar and banjo—adds a really interesting texture to the song. The rhythm of “Powder Down” is fast and driving, with Dave Z. slamming his snare drum along to a subdued guitar riff that somehow sounds great with a frantic accordion. If anyone ever needs music for a scene in a movie with a high speed unicycle chase through a circus, this just might be the perfect song.

Dave Z. plays a mini drum kit, one he designed to be carried on his back while riding a bike, and this is the set he also uses when recording. That he's able to get so much noise and provide such interesting and varied beats to the songs with this limited set-up is a real testament to his drumming abilities. Likewise, Lu Lubenstein manages to do a lot with her guitar (and piano) playing, which has become more intricate and captivating since the last album, as she has as good a sense for when to play a note as when to leave a space empty.

Volume 2 is an enjoyable record that is especially satisfying because it demonstrates a good deal of growth since All Your Science's debut. If you have the chance to catch the band live, you probably should check them out, as they put on a really fun show. Until then, though, you can enjoy both of their records for free at http://www.4gre.org/allyourscience/

You can also check out a short documentary all about the backpack drum set: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1399243/

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