Thursday, 2 July 2015

Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals - Album Review [2nd July 2015]

[2015.07.02] Tom Hollingworth, for NE:MM Online Magazine.

Throughout the nineties, David Pearce and his Flying Saucer Attack produced albums annually, showering sounds from the orbits of a shoegaze sun. At the turn of the millennium, Pearce seemingly hung up his FSA gown in support of a quieter lifestyle, with some brief excursions with other collaborators at the turn of the naughties. Now, after fifteen years away from public output, to a dedicated following’s delight, FSA are back with an album of fifteen brand new instrumentals.
 
Though arbitrarily numbered after their order on the record, each of these pieces is quite distinct, and at no point across the hour of music is there the sense that material is being duplicated or filled. All tracks are almost exclusively built with effects and amplification manipulating the sound and progressions of electric guitars. Each enjoys a bespoke colouration, for example, with Instrumental Three, the chords gently shimmer with delaying ripples, whilst Instrumental Four outlays drones and pad-like fuzz. The sixth instrumental dramatically interrupts the mood, breaking from tonality to explore the potential of crushing and wild white noise; from screaming pitches to factory raws.

Released ahead of the album, with an eery video montage of rural scenes, Instrumental Seven is worthy of distinction. Using guitar feedback alongside a second guitar moving around minor tensions, a rich, almost pipe-like sound is created. As well as this, the sound gates every so often. This fracturing of the recording creates a further unease, first established by its sorrowful melody.

Instrumental Ten, once more introduces a new perspective, with an open-position string exploration supported with a gentle oscillating ticker in the background.

Often the tracks are faded out, sometimes swiftly, almost crudely, giving the impression that their conclusion is arbitrary: the context of an album limiting our access to their fuller existence. However, the album concludes on lengthier tracks. The penultimate piece uses harmonics of IV and V chords with reversing sound to create a wonderfully eternal and hypnotic effect, whilst the last stand revels in a regenerated Em chord with hammer-on flickers and fuzz.

This album of instrumentals is a wonderful celebration of the distorted electric guitar, with each track utilising it in a different, peculiar way - often isolated, the only instrument from silence. Here, the ear is given the chance to focus on all of its frequencies and qualities aside from other instrumentation. It is testament to a fine musician to take something as familiar as this instrument and with each track take a listener’s ear back to a more virginal sense of expectation for its sound, but as tracks unveil on this new FSA album, demonstrating a wealth of different techniques and colours, Pearce does this.

After breaking from Domino Records in 1999, FSA now release Instrumentals with their support once more. It is a good to see Domino Records, ever popular through floor-filler acts like The Arctic Monkeys and Hot Chip, still keeping their umbrella wide and soul filled with important alternative artists speaking to audiences with more intimate desires. As well as bringing joy to loyal fans, may this new release on an ever prominent label introduce a new generation to FSA.

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