Density and texture have long held an ambiguous role in modern rock music. Since the days of Phil Spector and Pet Sounds, instruments have been layered and obscured behind an infamous “wall of sound”; yet the intent - the ultimate purpose of aural and instrumental collage - has never been clearly defined. And it’s for this reason that the results are often as murky as the instruments themselves. If there is a common thread, however, it’s that the use of feedback, distortion and muddied noise to harbor melodious atmosphere can intensify (and often enhance) music in a way that traditional sounds can not. Exhibit A: The War on Drugs.
At its core, Slave Ambient utilizes some of classic rock’s crown jewels as touchstones (Blood on the Tracks, All Things Must Pass, Born in the U.S.A. - to name a few), but singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel submerges his influences beneath an enrapturing and modestly unwavering haze. While some artists adopt the noise-and-distortion ideology as a crutch to obscure less-than-stellar songwriting, Granduciel uses it as a vehicle for carrying already personal and affecting songs into strikingly intense emotional territory. His words are poignant, poetic, and sung with rousing conviction, and combined with his compositional mettle, Granduciel’s crafted one of the most exquisite rock ‘n’ roll records these ears have heard in years - a singular artistic statement that’s sure to be remembered as one of of 2011’s finest achievements.
Slave Ambient is out August 16th via Secretly Canadian.