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Amp - All of Yesterday Tomorrow

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Artist: Amp

Album: All of Yesterday Tomorrow


Review date: Aug. 2, 2007

You don’t hear the phrase “space rock” bandied about much anymore. Relative newcomers to the world of “indie” music might be forgiven for mistaking the term for a description of rock music that employs celestial sounds rather that a genre distinction. But a genre distinction, though vague, it is. The space rock bands of the mid ’90s laid a bridge between the first wave of shoegazing and the more ethereal of the post-rock professors of the late ’90s-early ’00s (the latter genre distinction became stretched to the point of meaninglessness somewhere along the way).

All of Yesterday Tomorrow, a three-disc collection of Amp’s singles and unreleased material, lobbies for Richard Walker and Karine Charff’s place in what must be seen as a transitional stage for spaced-out guitar music. The selection of songs here illustrates the larger shift that took place in the ’90s. “Remember” is essentially a shoegazer song in the mold of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Ride. “Sketch a Star” embraces the static squall that has came to feature so prominently in today’s drone. The mass of music on these discs wanders through different experiments in structure and absence, as well as differing levels of commitment to melody. Most of it is decent, but the package often seems to lack the purpose evident in art that has graduated from experimentation to authentic vision.

Unlike the shoegaze that preceded it, this collection feels dated, perhaps more than its actual age (Amp recorded into the ’00s). The razor static of opener “Sketch a Star,” recorded in 2000, resembles the likes of a less-intricate Tim Hecker and Fennesz. While Amp came first, it’s likely that anyone who makes the connection would rather listen to the band’s descendants than Amp itself (whereas My Bloody Valentine are still better than anyone who’s aped My Bloody Valentine). For a music so closely linked to the eternal embrace of delay pedals and methods of abstraction, its age becomes all the more apparent as technology evolves. For instance, the control today’s laptop-powered sound sculptors have over their nebulous clouds of tone and texture is practically unprecedented. (Just think about the kind of computer you had in 1995.) While the rock songs, slathered in deep overdrive, largely hold up well, the drone and ambient pieces lack the dynamism that imbues the work of the genre’s finer craftsman.

There are also songs that lie somewhere in between these two poles. “So Hot (Wash Away All My Tears)” features a languid female croon over the repetition of a brief reverb’d piano phrase. It would work well if not for the unnervingly ’90s sounding spacey synth pings – the kind one hears by inadvertently stumbling into the keyboard room at Guitar Center. “Silencer” employs similarly suspect synth presets.

This is clearly a band that was working through its own ideas, testing different ways to abstract a rock song into something imprecise and elliptical. Many have drawn from their fieldwork and improved on the design. While it may not be timeless, it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of, either.

By Brandon Kreitler

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