Liars


(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

They Threw Us All In Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top (2001), 6.5/10
They Were Wrong So We Drowned (2004), 6/10
Drum's Not Dead (2006) , 7/10
Liars (2007) , 6.5/10
Sisterworld (2010), 5.5/10
WIXIW (2012), 5/10
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The Liars, led by Australian-born vocalist Angus Andrew and guitarist Aaron Hemphill, formed in New York to play dance-punk music.

Their effervescent debut album, They Threw Us All In Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top (Gern Blandsten, 2001), was a festival of hostile vocals and gargantuan rhythms, running the gamut from the ska-like pace of Grown Men Don't Fall In The River Just Like That to the grotesque rap-metal syncopation of Loose Nuts On The Velodrome. The feverish and abrasive approach yields a quintessential funk-punk dance, Mr Your On Fire Mr, slightly reggae-fied and scarred by electronic dissonances. It isn't all fury and pungency, though. The same means are used to craft the neurotic Nothing Is Ever Lost Or Can Be Lost My Science Friend and to sculpt the eight-minute psychological nightmare of This Dust Makes That Mud, a post-psychedelic jam that smoothly careens through vocal psychodrama, tribal drumming and sampled voices before decaying into an endless loop of shrill guitar notes (that goes on 22 minutes but could go on forever).

Having lost the rhythm section, the Liars turned to a less disco-friendly and more experimental sound on They Were Wrong So We Drowned (Mute, 2004), inspired by the witch trials of the 16th century. Only There's Always Room on the Broom, a grotesque dance-rock a` la Pere Ubu, harkens back to the previous album's lighter mood. Broken Witch, reminiscent of Violent Femmes' demented roots-rock and of Virgin Prunes' tribal pagan rock, Hold Hands and It Will Happen Anyway, a demonic distorted pow-wow, We Fenced Other Houses with the Bones of Our Own, an ethereal chant/exorcism over thin industrial rhythm, They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids, a childish danse macabre with fibrillating synthesizer, the funereal closer Flow My Tears the Spider Said, as well as the best of the brief surreal intermezzos (Steam Rose From The Lifeless Cloak and Read the Book That Wrote Itself), lean towards the darker side of things, eerie, haunting and ghostly. This is a different project from the one that debuted three years earlier, a bit sloppy, but still an intriguing one.

Tradotto da stefanopertile@libero.it

I Liars, guidati dall' australiano Angus Andrew alla voce e dal chitarrista Aaron Hemphill,si sono formati a New York per suonare musica dance-punk.

Il loro effervescente album di debutto, They Threw Us All In Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top (Gern Blandsten, 2001), era un festival di vocals ostili e ritmiche gargantuesche che si estendevano su una gamma che andava dal passo ska di Grown Men Don't Fall In The River Just Like That , al grottesco rap-metal sincopato di Loose Nuts On The Velodrome. L’approccio febbrile ed abrasivo produce una quintessenziale dance funk-punk, Mr Your On Fire Mr, leggermente reggata e sfregiata da dissonanze elettroniche. Non è tutta furia ed asprezza però. Gli stessi mezzi sono impiegati per modellare la nevrotica Nothing Is Ever Lost Or Can Be Lost My Science Friend e per scolpire l’incubo psicologico di otto minuti This Dust Makes That Mud, una jam post-psichedelica che sbanda calma tra uno psicodramma vocale, un battito selvaggio e delle voci campionate, prima di declinare in un loop senza fine di stridenti note di chitarra (che continua per 22 minuti ma potrebbe andare avanti per sempre).

Dopo aver perduto la sezione ritmica i Liars hanno virato verso sonorità meno disco e più sperimentali con They Were Wrong So We Drowned (Mute, 2004), ispirato dalla caccia alle streghe del sedicesimo secolo. Solo There's Always Room on the Broom torna sui passi dell’umore più leggero dell’album precedente. Broken Witch, le eteree We Fenced Other Houses with the Bones of Our Own, They Don't Want Your Corn They Want Your Kids, la strumentale Read the Book That Wrote Itself, così come la funeraria Flow My Tears the Spider Said, si affacciano sul lato più oscuro delle cose, misterioso, ossessionante e spettrale. E’ un progetto diverso da quello del debutto di tre anni prima, ma ancora intrigante.

The progression towards a more abstract sound, far removed from the archetypes, continued and possibly culminated with Drum's Not Dead (Mute, 2006), a work that blended an expressionist vein and a surrealist vein (coincidentally, the band had just relocated to Germany). The expressionist act was bookended by the extroverted and suspenseful overture Be Quiet Mt Heart Attack for deranged guitar drones over fluctuating drums and ghostly vocals (that ends abruptly just when it was beginning to make sense), and the subliminally epic closer The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack, a ballad that grafts Brian Eno's alien pop music onto Lou Reed's decadent pessimism. The ecstatic suspended chant of Drum Gets a Glimpse transitions into the surrealist agenda, with Let's Not Wrestle Mt Heart Attack (all rhythmic tension and warped vocal harmonies) and A Visit From Drum (tribal beats, drugged whispers and random noises) leading into the bizarre electrified landscape of Drum and the Uncomfortable Can, scoured by trotting percussion and robotic voices. In between the Liars pen vignettes, or, better, evanescent mirages, that don't quite seem interested in becoming music, like the ghostly fairy tale It Fit When I Was A Kid and the pulsating but otherwise uneventful Hold You Drum and the slow-motion singalong The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack; an attitude that becomes terminal with the static instrumental It's All Blooming Now Mt Heart Attack. A sense of alienation exhudes from the anemic soundscapes that the Liars concoct for their senseless lullabies. The Liars remain a band of mediocre musicianship (vocalist, guitarist and rhythm section are hardly virtuosi) but with a strong vision that is evolving faster than the musical universe around them.

The Liars retreated from their abstract peaks back towards a more earthly sound on Liars (Mute, 2007). The album flexes its rock muscles in Plaster Casts of Everything (pounding drums, looping bass riff, fibrillating guitar), Freak Out, a Cramps-ian voodoo dance, and Clear Island (a pseudo-rap rant over a folkish bacchanal). The spectrum was broad, as the album ranged from the dilated Indian litany over syncopated electronic beats of Houseclouds to the spaced-out industrial music of Leather Prowler, from the noisy dirge of What Would They Know (littered with dissonant clangors) to the chaotic Syd Barrett-ian lullaby of Pure Unevil.

Liars' bassist Pat Noecker left the band and joined vocalist and guitarist Anna Barie and a drummer to form These Are Powers that released Terrific Seasons (Hoss, 2007), Taro Tarot (Hoss, 2008) and All Aboard Future (Dead Oceans, 2009).

Sisterworld (Mute, 2010), ostensibly a concept about Los Angeles, mostly sounds like a bag of very old tricks. Obviously there is nothing spectacular about songs such as Scissor, I Still Can See An Outside World that alternate between soft and loud modes. Mary Pearson's bassoon, Daphne Chen's violin, Richard Dodd's cello and the mournful choir are wasted. The whining Goodnight In Everything shakes bassoon, trombone, violin and cello, but it has no direction. Proud Evolution exales raga-psychedelic perfumes of the 1960s, and Too Much Too Much rings the bell of shoegazing psychedelia of the 1990s. Finally, they inject some life into the murder ballad Scarecrows On A Killer Slant, a stomping nightmare that is certainly not Nick Cave but at least can claim to be real music and not just wall paper. The Overachievers jumps around with punk effervescence, but dozens of Los Angeles bands can do better than this. The subdued and calm delivery of No Barrier Fun and Drip amid eerie sonic events is what Liars is really unique about. This is a collection of traditional songs, sung in traditional styles and arranged in a traditional manner. The emphasis on the lyris is probably what debilitated the whole project, turning it into a sterile studio affair.

At the peak of the revival of 1980s synth-pop, the Liars delivered their own version of that stale style on WIXIW (Mute, 2012), pronounced "wish you". The analog synthesizers and digital drumming that permeate every song cannot hide the overall dearth of ideas. Once you're done with the ambient pop of The Exact Colour of Doubt and the gothic synth-pop of No 1 Against the Rush, everything sounds incredibly trivial. At least Brats has dancefloor value, with its hybrid of Moby-style thumping techno and Ministry-style industrial music. Then, again, dozens of bands have done that before and better.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

La progressione verso un suono più astratto, ben lontano dagli archetipi, continua e possibilmente culmina con Drum's Not Dead (Mute, 2006), un lavoro che unisce una vena espressionista e una surrealista (per coincidenza, la band si è appena trasferita in Germania).

Il lato espressionista si mostra nella ouverture estroversa e piena di suspence Be Quiet Mt Heart Attack, per deraglianti droni di chitarra su tamburi fluttuanti e voci spettrali (e che termina bruscamente proprio quando comincia ad avere un senso), e la subliminale, epica chiusura The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack, una ballata che innesta la pop music aliena di Brian Eno nel pessimismo decadente di Lou Reed. Il cantico estatico e sospeso  Drum Gets a Glimpse segna la transizione nel surrealismo, con Let's Not Wrestle Mt Heart Attack (tutto tensione ritmica e armonie vocali deformate) e A Visit From Drum (battiti tribali, sussurri drogati e rumori casuali), che conducono nel bizzarro paesaggio elettrificato di Drum and the Uncomfortable Can, raschiato da percussioni trottanti e voci robotiche. In mezzo i Liars dipingono vignette, o meglio, miraggi evanescenti che non sembrano interessati a divenire musica, come la fiaba spettrale It Fit When I Was A Kid, il pulsante ma tutto sommato tranquillo Hold You Drum e la cantilena al rallentatore The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack; un attitudine che diventa incurabile con lo strumentale statico It's All Blooming Now Mt Heart Attack. Un senso di alienazione trasuda dai paesaggi anemici che i Liars architettano per le loro ninne nanne

senza senso. I Liars rimangono una band dotata di una musicalità mediocre (il vocalist, il chitarrista e la sezione ritmica difficilmente sono virtuosi), ma con una forte visione che si sta evolvendo più rapidamente di tutto l’universo musicale che li circonda.

I Liars si ritrassero dai loro picchi astratti verso un suono più terreno in Liars (Mute, 2007). L’album flette i suoi muscoli rock in Plaster Casts of Everything (percussioni pestate, riff di basso ripetuto, chitarra fibrillante), in Freak Out, una danza voodoo à la Cramps, e in Clear Island (una declamazione pseudo-rap su un baccanale folk). Lo spettro è largo, e l’album oscilla fra la litania indiana dilatata su una base di sincopati battiti elettronici di Houseclouds, e la musica industriale spaziale di Leather Prowler, fra la nenia rumorosa di What Would They Know e la caotica ninna nanna barrettiana di Pure Unevil.

Il bassista dei Liars, Pat Noecker, lasciò la band e si unì alla vocalist e chitarrista Anna Barie per formare i These Are Powers, che pubblicarono Terrific Seasons(Hoss, 2007), Taro Tarot (Hoss, 2008) e All Aboard Future (Dead Oceans, 2009).

Sisterworld (Mute, 2010), apparentemente un concept su Los Angeles, suona prevalentemente come un bagaglio di trucchi molto vecchi.

Ovviamente non c’è nulla di spettacolare in canzoni come Scissor e I Still Can See An Outside World, che alternano modi tenui e forti. Il fagotto di Mary Pearson, il violino di Daphne Chen, il violoncello di Richard Dodd e il coro lamentoso sono sprecati. Il piagnisteo Goodnight In Everything  mobilita fagotto, trombone, violino e violoncello, ma non ha alcun senso. Proud Evolution esala profumi raga-psichedelici dei Sixties, e Too Much Too Much richiama la psichedelia shoegaze degli Anni Novanta. Alla fine, un po’ di vita viene iniettata nella “murder ballad” Scarecrows On A Killer Slant, un incubo che certamente non è Nick Cave, ma che almeno può pretendere di essere vera musica e non solo carta da parati. The Overachievers saltella con effervescenza punk, ma dozzine di band di Los Angeles possono fare meglio di così. La sommessa e calma dizione di No Barrier Fun e Drip, immersa in eventi sonori inquietanti, è ciò che è davvero unico nei Liars. Questa è una collezione di canzoni tradizionali, cantate in modo tradizionale e arrangiate in maniera tradizionale. L’enfasi sulle liriche è probabilmente ciò che debilita l’intero progetto, trasformandolo in uno sterile esercizio di studio.

 

Al picco del revival del synth-pop Anni Ottanta, i Liars rilasciano la loro versione di quello stile su WIXIW(Mute, 2012), che si pronuncia “wish you”. I sintetizzatori analogici e il drumming digitale che permea ogni canzone non riescono a nascondere la complessiva scarsità di idee. Ad eccezione dell’ambient-pop di The Exact Colour of Doubt e del synth-pop gotico di No 1 Against the Rush, tutto suona incredibilmente triviale. Alla fine Brats ha un proprio valore per le piste da ballo, con il suo stile ibrido fra la techno martellante di Moby e la musica industriale dei Ministry. Ancora una volta dozzine di band hanno fatto le stesse cose prima e meglio di loro.

(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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