January 29, 2011

Album Review: The Forms' Derealization EP

Time plays an integral role in anything that The Forms do. Releases to date by the Brooklyn multi-insrumental math rock quartet-turned-duo are few and far between, consisting of just two LPs over the span of eight years. Each holds around ten compactly crafted tracks clocking in at just around 30 minutes from start to finish. Four years after the release of their admirable self-titled sophomore effort, The Forms are finally back with what on first impression seems like a half-hearted hold-me-over. Derealization is an EP (Cue the "Haven't all their albums been?" jokes here) of six songs worth of reworked tracks off Icarus and The Forms. It sounds like a cop out to keep their listeners content until they manage to pull another full-length together, but in typical Forms' fashion, there is purpose and over-thought in the detail. Bursting from the seams with a who's who guest list of the NYC and D.C. scene's finest, The Forms take full advantage of their indie rock black book in a move that could easily broaden their appeal to a wider audience or muster up their credibility. AwkwardSound noted this when it looked at the EP's opener, "Fire to the Ground" (formerly known as "Redgun" off The Forms) featuring Matt Berninger of the immensely successful The National. In the same essence this song could easily be a cut Berninger would have made on his own band's dime if it weren't written by The Forms, Derealization more often than not finds The Forms' music being complimented by its guest stars. "Steady Hand" has Pattern and Movement's Andrew Thiboldeaux lending vocals, giving the song formerly known as "Bones" from Icarus a glassy, effervescent feel. While the skeleton of crunchy, angular post-hardcore riffs still makes up the song's core, Thiboldeaux's contribution smooths out its coarseness. "Finally" features Craig Wedron of D.C. pop-leaning post-hardcore band, Shudder to Think, who have influenced The Forms sound from the start. Much like the transition between Shudder to Think's early and later work which went from aggressive to melodic, Wedren and The Forms reinvision their music with symphonic bliss. All the credit can't be given to the men behind the mics, though, as instrumental contributions and arrangements from The Dirty Projectors' Nat Baldwin and St. Vincent's Daniel Hart help shape-shift The Forms' brand of math rock into an ebb and flow of orchestral pop. The Forms' Alex Tween and Matt Walsh carry their own weight as well on Derealization with "Same Path Montra," "Alpha Wave" and "Derealization," which manipulate the paces and induces an electronic soundscape onto "Knowledge In Hand," "Alpha" and "Transmission" respectively off their self-titled album. It was, after all, Walsh's accidental run-in with the 45rpm setting on his record player upon listening to the latter that birthed the idea of the Derealization EP. Whether you have been exposed to The Forms' music at this point is irrelevant to whether or not you can appreciate these reworked tracks. Derealization is a well-rounded pseudo-tribute album of sorts showcasing The Forms music in various lights, which may ultimately prompt new listeners to look into their back catalog. Even though some of these songs were originally written nearly 10 years ago, this unique project by The Forms and their friends is a reaffirming statement that their music defies the boundaries of time.

The Forms' Derealization EP will be released February 15, 2011 on Threespheres / Ernest Jenning Records.

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