Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Analog Rebellion - Ancient Electrons

As a younger teen, I fell in love with Dan Hunter’s original project Playradioplay!. I thought his music was the most adorable thing ever. Over numerous years, Dan has grown and so has his music. In 2009 he officially changed his project name to Analog Rebellion, which is a much better name in my opinion. Though his music is still adorable and his identity is still present in his sound, I love the depth and textures that he has incorporated into his new album.

“Ancient Electrons” starts off soft and easy with the song “Brain =/= Heart (I Need To Know)”. There is a combination of piano, acoustic and electric guitar, simple percussion, sporadic synthesized textures incorporated. The vocals closely follow the melodic piano parts but the sound maintains its complexity throughout. In the middle there is a synthesized solo that reminds me of the White Stripe’s texture that is used on “Icky Thump”. The vocals are soft and dreamy with gorgeous harmonies and multiple layered vocals in each ear. One thing I enjoy about this track is that it is not completely predictable and the structure is more creative and progressive.

By the second track, Analog Rebellion has lapsed back into the Playradioplay style. The sound is much more sparse than the other tracks on this album with the main theme being dreamy beepy synth sounds. “Your love has got me shakin’, ohhh, your love has got me moving, ohhh” are the main sang repeatedly throughout the song which is catchy, but is unimpressive and very insubstantial. If you are looking for a song to sing along to and pick up easily, this is for you, but I prefer songs that are thick and keep me more interested. Also, I am not sure why this song is called “A Particularly Long Elevator Shaft”. Dan has a habit of giving his names completely unrelated to what the song is about and seemingly random. I have no idea if this is some sort of inside joke or phallic thing, but I find random naming to be a bit immature.

“A Real Clever Trick Fur a Bear” is one of the best songs on the album. The name is cute and ironic which I like. If you listen to it with headphones in and your eyes closed, it feels like you are flying during the verses and the chorus picks up well. This song is super catchy but not in a dumb way. A central melody is present but multiple listens will not leave the listener bored because there are several texture layers.

“You’ve Been Had (Machine)” has gorgeous and haunting vocals that break up the song and keep the listener guessing. The structure isn’t predictable and the multiple movements in the song make it a pleasure to experience. I love the Icky Thumpy synth sounds that are present in this track as well. Well done.

As a nursing student that suffered from mono this semester, I found “Marla Singer Doesn’t Take Standardized Tests (Disposable Smile)” very relatable. “Be weary of blood cells drawn in black and white, they’ll save you from yourself by ways of empty sky, you trace lines with such great expertise, chronic pain from the kissing disease” which basically describes my entire life. I love the high pitch piano that lightly traces the vocal and fades throughout the song. I also love the lyrics “You breathe air and give us nothing return, you right there with your disposable burns, take me home and leave me hanging at the door, you that way have always been hard to ignore”. Instead of singing about pirates and princesses, Dan has developed a new style that is much more mature.

In the single “I Am A Ghost (Artifact)”, the falsetto that Dan has is beautiful and haunting. When I first got this album and listened to it with my eyes closed at night, I got really scared because it sounds like a total creepy stalker wrote the song; Dan sings about keeping bodies in the back of his American car and ghosts. The piano is really creepy. Regardless, this song is beautiful.

The final track “An Onset of Thank You (Credits & Genres)”, Dan has once again lapsed into his former Playradioplay glory. He is basically doing the same exact thing he did on his last album: on “Texas” by Playradioplay, there is a thin song saying goodbye, just like this one. Even though I think this song has been done before, I feel like this song is true to whom Dan truly is; the lyrics and vocals sound really honest and expressive. It is about leaving Texas and making new music, which is what he did for this album, so I think it is a good closer.

There are a few random fillers in this album like “An Exercise in Humility”, “Sunbero Negro” and “North Korea And Kim Jong Il's Fat Fucking Face”. While I feel that these may just be an attempt at filling time, I feel that they help make the album more unified and keep it together like glue. They aren’t too bad and not worth skipping, like fillers on other albums are.

I also question why on most of the songs Dan sings with the same melody as the piano. He hides it in some songs, but this makes me question whether or not he has trouble singing by himself or maybe he is tone deaf…. I’m not sure why it is necessary because I don’t think it adds any depth to the music.

Even though Dan Hunter’s music has been compared to Christopher Drew and other lesser caliber musicians (in my opinion), I think that Dan knows a thing or two about music and blows all those other pop electro indie musicians out of the water. This is even more apparent with “Ancient Electrons”.


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