Guitaro: Futura Black (Independent, 2002)

by Jason

Guitaro Futura BlackHeather Warkentin, Mark Wiebe, Jeremy Epp, and Jeremy Unrau make up the shoegaze/dream-pop band called Guitaro. They hail from British Columbia, Canada and make some of the best shoegaze/dream-pop this side of the Atlantic. Huge walls of sound, listless and ghost-like vocals, and great melodies fill Futura Black, their debut album.

Futura Black begins with “Find You Out Part 4.” The listener is instantly hit with soaring guitars and a wall of sound. This fades a bit to shimmering vocals, plodding percussion and acoustic guitar. The louder guitars then come in to accompany and add depth to all the sounds. It is beautiful how the breathy vocals float on the sea of guitars. The track “breaths” itself out of existence with wind blowing. “No. 1 Rock Station” starts with posturing guitars, but they become tempered with acoustic guitar, soft percussion and floating vocals recessed in the mix. This is a very consistent song as far as song, but the melodies are catchy and beautiful and the fuzzy guitars bring a nice tension to the mix.

“Rock Song” is followed by “Zamboni M.” This song starts off with pure vocals and sparse acoustic guitar. This is eventually joined by sparse percussion. I would call this song a ballad, but it’s too shoegazer for that, if that makes sense. It is a short interlude that really gives the listener a chance to take a breather from the walls of sound. “Science Center” re-ushers in those walls of sound and the intro to the song is huge and blissful. I really like the guitar tones on this track. They are full, oppressive, and at the same time expansive and beautiful. The vocals and melody are right on and catchy. This song has a Slowdive feel to it, but not so much that the influence sticks out like a soar thumb as it were.

“Flying Cloud” is an utter change to a dream-pop feel not unlike The Melody Unit. Heather‘s vocals are gorgeous and the music paints a picture of clouds racing by as the wind whips through your hair. It is fast paced and has acoustic guitar, spacey keys, and driving percussion and bass. A wind blows at the end of the track as an airplane flies by. Really, “Cloud” is a spectacular dream-pop song. As the cloud clear away, “Yay” kicks in with the big guitars, but there is still a dream-pop feel to this song as well. This time, there is a mix of male and female vocals akin to Melody Unit’s similar style. The difference here is that there are shoegaze elements with big walls of sound that tower over the pop like a wall of sound.

“Solar Scars” seems to be about California and the beautiful dream-pop of this song really drips with that location. Acoustic guitar, strong percussion, simple keys, and accentuating bass are accompanied by Heather’s phenomenally innocent and breathtaking vocals. Male vocals back her, creating perfect dream-pop heaven. “No. 2 Rock Station” has a slow, plodding feel to it. There is a kind of slide guitar feel among the rest of the instruments. The track is short and transitions into the longest and last track on the disc. “Ace Faced on the Scene” begins with wind and jangly guitar. The bass and percussion are patient and the huge guitar sound that Guitaro creates fills in the mix. The vocals are drawn out and so are the guitar notes, sort of like a slow-core song with loud guitars. It creates a very nice effect. This song is patient to say the least. The track peters out into a low rumble and then spacey guitars, leaving the listener wanting more.

Honestly, I can’t say enough about this disc. Futura Black is a must own cd for any shoegaze/dream-pop fan. In fact, I would say that any music lover would get lost in the walls of sound and hypnotic voices Guitaro weave on this disc!

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