Music Reviews
All Aboard Future

These Are Powers All Aboard Future

(Dead Oceans) Rating - 7/10

Last year’s Taro Tarot, an EP by Brooklyn/Chicago noisemakers These Are Powers, was a six song retrofitted No Wave powerhouse, obnoxiously combustible and piston rhythmic, mixing art snob perspective with electronically enhanced consistency.  Between former Liar bassist Pat Noecker, singer/guitarist Anna Barie and Bill Salas, (known also as beatmeister Brenmar), there was an interesting marriage of Lydia Lunch six-string cacophony and Aphex Twin avant propulsion.  Even the nonsensical crayon scrawl on Taro Tarot’s cover appropriately foretold of the sounds it would sonically dispense, its quickly stroked and abstract shape expressing the music through movement.

Following the natural order of musical evolution, These Are Power’s follow-up, All Aboard Future, is an attempt at found structure that dilutes TAP’s abrasiveness.  Relying more on electronic beat pulsars and dancehall rhythms, but trying to maintain its cold blood guitar shrieks and arthouse vocal delivery, All Aboard Future seems the bastard stepson of Return To Cookie Mountain-era TV On The Radio; a looser, more minimal yet machined and coarse interpretation of modern soul, reggae, post-punk and trip-hop.

The sound of skipping or malfunctioning machinery, the rhythmic basis for first track Easy Answers, gives away most of All Aboard Future’s methodology, as it’s continually expanding upon pseudo-Industrial foundations.  Life Of Birds, however, utilizes sound methods employed in Taro Tarot, clinging mostly to abrupt explosions of marching drum sound and Barie’s sex kitten cries, guitar squeals aplenty. 

Double Double Yolk is probably the album’s most accessible song, an odd variation on dub reggae with syncopated pulsar beats and relatively smooth bass lines.  It’s almost completely dance-friendly and upbeat and contrasts the dark and mysterious Parallel Shores, whose midsection swells into an abundance of cacophonous darkness. 

Light After Sound is a somewhat menacing Suicide deviation that shifts into a techno treatment of tribal bass n’ drum and leads into the Tricky’d out Adam’s Turtle and Glass Blocks.  90s era Maxinquaye-styled constructs run prevalent at this point, leaving Salas the seeming architect and drowning out the band’s conventional instrumentation.

The inclusion of lullaby Sand Tassels and electronic chant track Blue Healer provide an ambiguous closing for the album, the latter seeming like some Byrne/Eno B-side.  As the album’s progression from spare minimalist noise rock to tribal beat-heavy electronica already pushes All Aboard Future into an almost uneven realm, Blue Healer’s ambient softness feels lightweight.  Even the subtle and emotional territory Sand Tassels flirts with has more in common with the rest of the album.

As the No Wave era itself was a fast fizzle, its influence has lasted long enough to cultivate a slew of noise bands, many of whom came into being, or at least into the public eye, in the early parts of this decade.  These Are Powers, obviously coming from such beginnings, is working against the inevitable end that plagues bands of this ilk: the inability to improve upon or expand on ideas based in anti-structure. 

As John Coltrane blasted his sax into disarray before his untimely demise, he’d basically run out of avenues to explore because his musical world had become so intangible.  Had he lived longer, his only recourse may have been to relearn the discipline and constraint that goes along with conventional music assembly.  Or, learn another instrument.  Such is life after noise and All Aboard Future realizes this.  These Are Powers are trying to find their way while building their form as formless as possible.