sat 21/04/2018

CD: The Early Years - II | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Early Years - II

CD: The Early Years - II

A decade-long synthesis proves a winning formula for the experimental rockers

'An album that is commercially viable simply by virtue of being wonderful'

It was 2008 when The Early Years went into the studio to begin work on the follow-up to their impressive self-titled debut. Having pretty much set out the blueprint for many, if not all, of the kraut-esque bands who followed in their wake, there was disagreement on where to go next: further down the same path or sideways onto softer, more experimental ground? Songs or structures? Klaus Dinger or Michael Rother?

It was a disagreement that led to the abandonment of the project, until now, almost a decade later: the result, released on Sonic Cathedral, is such a beautifully balanced feat that it’s impossible to tell who won – perhaps because everyone did. This is an extraordinary album.

It’s a multi-platform game these days and you have to shout loud to be heard

There is something about a sound that can, almost of itself, be pleasing and rewarding. The modal synth signature that marshals the new wave of new-age ambience; the arpeggiated lollop of the middle-paced rave for the middle-aged raver and, yes, the engine of the motor drone that propels much of what we now expect from guitar music. The result of being roped in to a trope is there is much that meets our expectations… All too often, however, there is little that exceeds them.

Opening salvo “Nocturne” sets the pace convincingly, screeching and incendiary psychedelia – the sort often promised, but rarely delivered. Raw synths and guitar snake around a drum pattern straight out of the Ringo Starr vaults, startling and immediately involving. Meanwhile, a cluster of songs, “Fluxus”, “Clone Theory” and “Near Unison”, occupy a space closer to the experimental synth sounds that initially caused guitarist Roger Mackin to look elsewhere for inspiration. Any issues surrounding focus are dismissed as the songs’ flares are marshalled into convincing and completely coherent shapes.

Like French counterparts Vox Low, The Early Years have an understanding of structure and dynamics that puts most contemporaries in the shade, but you have to ask, to what end? The terrain has changed, it’s a multi-platform game these days and you have to shout loud to be heard through the incessant slurry of lesser bands with bigger egos. It’s not enough to write the songs, you have to actually put them in people’s ears.

In a world that too often values marketing over art and profit over value, The Early Years have produced that rare thing: an album that is commercially viable simply by virtue of being wonderful. Spread the word.

@jahshabby

Any issues surrounding focus are dismissed as the songs’ flares are marshalled into convincing and completely coherent shapes

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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