AMP: All Of Yesterday Tomorrow (RROOPP, 2007)

by Brent

AMPSome music entities burn out after only a short time, releasing a disc or two of focused material that packs a punch with listeners while leaving them satiating for more. Other groups take a longer road towards music, pacing themselves over a length of time with release after release, oftentimes fading ever so slowly from the imagination of listeners as the group settles in on developing their musical sound. It is quite another thing altogether to have a band thriving over a long period time with inventive music that pushes their creativity to the limit, time and again. Such bands need to be celebrated and revered, not only for their longevity, but for the incredible art they share with the rest of us in this lonely world.

All Of Yesterday Tomorrow is one such collection that attempts to give such a band their due, and this massive 3-disc collection, compiling out-of-print, rare, and unreleased material from the seminal avant-ambient Amp, fulfills its mission spectacularly. Featuring well over three hours of music, notes and credits for each track, a well-written band biography, interesting pictures of the band taken over the course of their existence, and gorgeous artwork, All Of Yesterday Tomorrow is a fitting tribute to Amp’s other-world brand of noise/music. Fans of the band, who’ve been releasing music since 1991, will be delighted to hear vinyl-only and exclusive tracks culled from every era of Amp’s career, from the early years of static soundscapes to the latter more structured years of slightly stronger melodies infused with subtle electronics. All Of Yesterday Tomorrow is also a great investment for people wanting to get a sense of the brilliance of Amp, as the collection contains no filler tracks; each song is meticulously crafted with Amp’s particular ethos of creating something beautiful out of noise and melody. Amp’s music is truly indescribable…it does not exist in any neat subcategory. For instance, looking at Disc 1 of All Of Yesterday Tomorrow, one can hear flashes of pristine dream -pop (“Melatonin Red”), otherwordly ambient soundscapes (“Sketch a Star”), strange electronic/sample based experimentalism (“ICU”), and even gorgeous pastoral English folk (“Fine Day”). Such variations in style and sound do not detract from the overall reflective, mind-altering, dreamy, and existential quality of Amp’s music, as the band is able to unite their musical creations with their subtle songwriting and attention to sound. Comparisons to the great English ambient-folk-shoegazer band Flying Saucer Attack are appropriate, since Richard Amp, the front-man and principle architect of Amp has collaborated heavily with Dave Pearce of Flying Saucer Attack (Pearce has also contributed to Amp’s recordings and live shows over the years, even appearing on All Of Yesterday Tomorrow). However, to label Amp a Flying Saucer Attack clone would be totally incorrect. Not only does Amp veer off into even more abstract and noise-based experimentalisms than Flying Saucer Attack ever has, but even when Amp does create a more melodic, song-based track, such as the gorgeous “Beyond”, their music is largely delivered by the subtly expressive voice of Karine Charff. Charff’s voice is perfectly suited to Amp, with her melancholically delivered vocals are warm enough to convey a sense of longing and frailty, yet distant enough to emit a dissociative numbness. Whether Charff is singing, utilizing spoken-word, or simply letting her voice become one with the sounds of the drones and atmospherics, she adds an engaging quality to the music of Amp, anchoring the listener in the momentary emotions of the song. Over the course of three discs, Amp takes the listener on a truly mesmerizing aural journey, and as the liner notes indicate, “conjure(s) up a space in the listener where imagination is triggered, where meaning and mystery meet”.

All Of Yesterday Tomorrow ends up being just as rare as the band it chronicles, for its 38 tracks are all incredible explorations of dreamy and truly inventive music. For who else would a 3 disc set of bsides and non-album tracks be so overwhelmingly amazing than for Amp, that rarest of bands who’ve contributed unswervingly uncompromised art for years? All Of Yesterday Tomorrow is, simply put, one of the front-runners for releases of the year for 2007; a scrumptious collection of creativity, from the music to the beautiful artwork and notes. A must-have for ambient/noise addicts. And, as label RROOPP’s second amazing release (their first being that breathtaking multi-disc Yellow6 collection from 2006), RROOPP has jumped to the top of labels to watch in the coming years. Highly recommended!

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