Tilt Music 2016
Pushing the borders of their comfort zone, art-rock stalwarts create an unsettling, if compelling, environment where strange things can happen.
The bookending of TILT’s full-length debut with “_Assembly” and “Disassembly_” speaks volumes about this collective’s constructivist approach, and their attention detail will be fully appreciated once the listeners notice the underscore position. Yes, the album is an open, yet by no means barren, space which, cultivated for five years and preceded by two EPs, provided three members of Fish’s band and his songwriting partners with a platform to stage their own vision.
It may build up slowly, thickening the sound along the way, but the bleak picture that emerges in the insistent throb of Steve Vantsis’ bass and David Stewart’s percussion doesn’t fail to mesmerize throughout. Still, once PJ Dourley’s plaintive voice has painted an image of loss and impending chaos over their initially sparse groundwork, Paul Humphreys’ guitar riffs cut through the haze and reveal an almost orchestral vista behind this tuneful veil, while gales of epic rocking in the title track, acoustically tinctured by Robin Boult, blow any traditional prog notions to smithereens. By pouring drops of piano into a synthesizer-smeared clepsydra, courtesy of IT BITES’ John Beck, these four horsemen of Apocalypse measure humanity’s borrowed time in emotional phases, and the folk-tinged pain hiding in “Against The Rain” is so bittersweet that it’s impossible not to relate to and accept as your own… because it is your own.
There’s no shame in admitting a weakness when there’s a will to stand your ground no matter what, so power chords don’t get in the way of it in “No Superman” whose vibrant groove and six-string solo are suitably defiant; that’s why, perhaps, “Growing Colder” is full of grace, celestial organ outlining the piece’s – and the whole record’s – deceptively abstract spirituality, a feeling which “Strontium Burning” turns into cautious joy to chase anxiety away and move toward excitement. That’s what is pumping urgency and expectancy in the pulsing stream of “Bloodline” – amped up by John Mitchell flaming axe – and it’s the sense of time and quiet reflections that remain after a sensual clang and religious delusions subside to silence: the hinterland where you, tilted out of serenity and left alone, become almighty. This milestone of an album is just a mark of it.