Alcian Blue: S/T (Elephant Stone, 2006)

by Jason

Alcian Blue Alcian BlueHailing from Washington, DC, Alcian Blue has finally released their S/T debut full-length on Elephant Stone Records. Their selection of new-gaze releases throughout the past years has been a common staple in my cd player and this new disc is no exception. Although their past discs have been new-gaze centered, their new tunes are infused with the best of 80’s influences.

“Horizons” kicks of this full-length with siren style noises. Clangs punctuate the buzz as deep bass begins to punctuate the speakers. Keys elevate and bring back memories of early Depeche Mode or New Order with a twist. The vocals are deep and ominous, chanting in the midst of oceans of keys and bass. Channeling the likes of the 80’s greats, this tune infuses shoegaze layers and overwhelming walls of sounds. “71705” begins with a danceable set of drums and brings keys to the fore. Again, this is classic 80’s synth-dance. The music is infectious. I have long awaited someone to write music like this again and to perform it correctly. Dark, powerful, and infectious, “71705” has all the right elements and more. Glittering, layered guitars punctuate the final moments of the track, bringing it to a close as analog synth peters out.

“You Just Disappear” has a bass-line that is fantastic and it floats between driving drums and forceful keys. The high-hat chimes in that speedy fashion as the rest of the unit keep their slower tempo. The dissonance is fantastic. As the dance motions end, the keyboard fades. “Night Sky” is a slow tempo track with echoing vocals that shimmer amongst the keys and percussion. The track is haunting and ethereal. “Frozen Sleep” is less organic in its entrance. The vocals are embedded in the mix and are ghost like. The tempo of the percussion is fast while the keys and vocals are slow and languid. The pounding, fuzzy percussion punctuates and builds along with layers of noise. “Caroline” is a melancholy piece with quiet vocals, sparse keys and acoustic guitar. Beautiful and patient, it is a perfect place in the disc for this piece.

“This Day This Age” is a keyboard and percussion driven piece. The vocals are deep and foreboding again. The great age of dance synth is back and this sort of music should be blaring from the turn table of DJ’s all over the country. Gothic in tone, but energized to the listeners delight, Alcian Blue explode into your speakers with ferocity and darkness. “Turn Away” has a straightforward beat with deep vocals. While the track seems pretty simple at first, the shoegaze guitars come into the mix and fill out the spacey keyboards. The swirling layers of guitar are beautiful and soaring.

“See You Shine” begins with a great beat and vocals that hearken back to early Psychedelic Furs. Tambourine accents the beat and the drums pulse under spacey guitars. “Terminal Escape” explodes as it hits the speakers. Guitars soar and fuzz as keys add to the walls of sound. Chaotic percussion and walls of sound play under haunting vocals. This song is an assault on the senses and finishes this disc with all the elements of the band in great form.

Alcian Blue has carved out a sound for themselves in the vast majority of copy-cat bands. New-gaze is getting more and more diverse and Alcian Blue has certainly broken the mold.

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