Out Hud
S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. CD - Kranky

Many acts (under the cumbersome categorization of “intelligent dance music”) are reworking the dance genre to a degree that allows for genuine creative and artistic effort. Of course, this is not particularly a new form really, as this agglomeration of technophiles have long been at it, coming from diverse musical backgrounds and tinkering around with machines to come up with something compelling to dance to. At some point, a reference was made to this electro-instrumental group, who with this debut full-length, lays down a consistent spectrum of rhythmic, organic-sounding dance beats over a collage of retro-pop sounds. They remind me of Adult (on the Detroit-based Ersatz Audio label) in the way the indie-kid element shines through the clinical and techno environment. The music plays like disco by-way-of indie rock, as if the dance element prescribed to some vague form of an indie ethos, forming a bridge between the technicalities of electro-dance and the eccentricities of indie rock. The album has a good dance feel and the clinical beats fuse with different musical elements well, sounding organic in its composition. The tracks carry that pulsating house-y beat that is saturated with elements of dub, and awash in synthesized low-end sound effects, yet each one also assumes a “personality” by displaying their own unique ebb and flow of energy, interweaving within collages of new wave sound effects. In that respect, Out Hud inhabits a youthful post-rock section as compared to their mature label-mates Tortoise and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (the change in the “!” is duly noted). Only here, we have brainy musicians who have a great penchant for shaking their boo-tay, ya dig? The music, while feeling like a hybridized form, still sounds as if rehashed and recycled from popular styles of music. Though this style of musicianship is hardly revolutionary, Out Hud plays it as if they were reproducing the sounds straight out of some intrinsic tune residing in their collective musical mind, much in a copy-and-paste manner that sounds neither calculated nor stupid, just more a representation of a melody reworked into a dance format through diverse musical inputs. This being said, I wished the music had shot up the bar at those moments where the energy seemed to have built up to a rousing point, instead of keeping within a monotone techno feel. Considering how adept these guys seem to be in building up deep low-end beats (as well as playing implosive live sets), the tracks sounded subdued throughout and only hinted of a climactic twists of energy, as if cut short before it reached its natural apex. The album sounded great during the first few listens, but does not have that quality of repeated listens once the musical trajectory is figured out. Like in the song “The Bum’s Paid,” it just gets to a point where it sounds burnt out and muddled. However, there is no denying that Out Hud has created a formidable post-rock aesthetic, one that breathes life into a synthesized environment and manages to create a form of synergy between the organic and the artificial. The album starts out unassumingly enough with “Story Of The Whole Thing” that wafts by a thread of lonely echoing guitars and resonating violins, with clashing sound effects and a deep bass beat. A whimsical disco beat prevails in the following “Dad, There’s A Little Thing Called Too Much Information,” all awash in a lovely collage of new wave synth sounds. In their obvious title dig at Brooklyn’s self-conscious Williamsburg residents, “The L Train Is Swell And I Don’t Want To Hear You Indies Complain” had the music coming together in a streaming beat with dreamy atmospherics, where the echoing guitars frolic and feed off other clinical elements, giving you a feeling this close to a poignant moment in the sun. This album does not so much make you want to dance but rather compels you to sway to the music like an atypical indie kid. That has got to count for something. (Desmond Ngiam)



©2004 Skyscraper Magazine.
All material is the property of Skyscraper Magazine and may not be reprinted, copied, or redistributed without the expressed written consent of the editors.
Site by: Joshua R. Jones