by Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)
There are moments in the new Eaters album, especially in the opening and closing songs, that suggest the band could be big. One that could command festival stages, enrapturing throngs of sun soaked festival goers with their style of pulsating hypnotic rhythms. There are also moments that suggests they might have no interest in that sort of thing, unless that stage is in a dark warehouse overblown with hyperactive strobes and full of sweaty kids chugging orange juice and dancing the night away. It might be better to say Eaters are more concerned with the recording process, discovering what comes out of the experience.
Eaters made their start by designing soundscapes for their performative light sculptures and installations that immersed you in glass, light, and sound. The soundtracks for Moment of Inertia and Prisms function more as experimental music than anything resembling traditional song structure. Their first album (also self-titled) is mostly instrumental. It’s a stark contrast to their previous output, the new album is designed to have accessible songs while still retaining that Eaters touch. The songs have structure and form, lyrics can be found on most of the songs. If anything could be called art rock this could. A modern day Throbbing Gristle though not so discordant and rough around the edges.
Recorded over two years in New York, artists Bob Jones and Jonathan Schenke (Christopher Duffy handles the visual aspect of the group) have crafted a complex album full of noises, throbs, and some good old-fashioned riffs. The album sounds like human artists locked in a partnership with machines. A partnership between blood and wires where the humans are locked in a battle with the machines for who gets final say. It gives the songs an edge. There’s drama interlaced throughout the songs. The nine tracks feel apart from each other but still connected, working together while seeming to be vastly different. There’s no cohesive style to the songs but there is still a unified whole that displays a band willing to follow their synthetic muse to the intricate places it takes them. “This moment won’t last” they sing on "No Secret". The same could be said for each track on the album. "Empty Yourself" feels like a harder edged Orbital only to be followed up by a straight up club hit like "The Grass, The Grazing". Throw in some Nine Inch Nails, late nights in dark goth clubs, and Berlin era Bowie and you have an album that surprises often and makes for engaging repeat listens.
"Embrace the Strange" starts things off with its garage rock vibes. The drums pound out the beat while the guitar comes in right alongside to drive the song forward. The track struts into the verse, each part jumping in and keeping up with the rest of the song. It’s followed by "No Secret" which feels like a 180 in terms of instrumentation and style. Here the synths lead the charge, pulsing out its metallic beat. It’s definitely an album for gear heads. The synths feel organic. There’s a surprising warmth to the tone. The aptly titled "Horizons" opens up the space and brings a touch of the etherial, only to then be counter-balanced by the dark underground vibe of "The Well". Each track is a room of its own to explore, spend time in. "Always and Never" closes the album out with its anthemic guitar line. The piano pounds away its pattern opening up into a full bloom around three minutes in. It’s impossible to not bounce and throw your hands up.
These are but snapshots of an album that wants you to slow down and experience it. Eaters have made an album that rewards those who listen by providing a different experience each time you put it on. Layered, complex, and varied, it pays off in different ways. It’s a record that gives you new favorite moments after you listen. Like light going through glass, the sounds refract outward based on who is listening. Give it a listen and see what sounds make it to you.