Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Glitch Mob- Drink the Sea REVIEW

The Glitch Mob released their debut electronic opus Drink the Sea in May, 2010- but over a year later, it still feels fresh, resonant, intimidating, and surprisingly lacking in trademark glitch. A sprawling ten-track album that attempts to reinvigorate the sound of anthemic trance, the Glitch Mob DJs (edit, Ooah, and Boreta) make their grand aspirations known from the very start. The songs-each clocking in between five and seven minutes- do not so much play, but methodically unfold, consuming the listener. And instead of marching towards a natural end point, they seem to grow larger and more dangerous. The methodical tension, the mysterious synth lines, the almost complete absence of vocals, the machine gun style percussion (which reminds one of the glory days of Safri Duo)- all create a distinctly cinematic feel. Experiencing Drink the Sea is like living within the intensity of a rapidly edited, two-minute movie trailer- for an hour. That said, it’s difficult to listen to this album and not be a willing participant in whatever grandiose, interstellar experience the Glitch Mob is striving to achieve. Their ambition is infectious. We ultimately have little choice but to follow them on this journey- whatever flaws and excesses we encounter along the way, be damned.

Drink the Sea is not the first electronic album to evoke an urban, nocturnal tone. However, the Glitch Mob is consistently successful here at creating a bird’s eye perspective of this hypothetical nighttime cityscape. Beginning with “Animus Vox”, the album’s rousing opener, and continuing through “A Dream Within a Dream”, this detached motif conjures elements of an aerial, scenic atmosphere. After a brief midsection lull- “Fistful of Silence” and “Between Two Points” are the album’s weakest links- Sea drops back down to earth with faster-paced highway tunes- including the single, “Drive It Like You Stole It”. While the sound is undeniably clubby (these tunes are without a doubt designed for the post-midnight dancefloor), the song structure is conceptual in nature. The synth lines and electronic loops rise and explode in the traditional mold- but the Glitch Mob takes those sounds in unpredictable directions once they inevitably reform. For all its excess and experimental gusto, the album remains a more or less reasonably efficient, calculating experience. The Glitch Mob DJs pace their electronic barrage well enough with the only real misstep being the aforementioned midsection. There is an ambitious internal logic as to what is being attempted with Drink the Sea. Despite its flaws, it is assured in its own identity. And that’s more than can be said of other similar genre offerings.

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