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Excepter - Presidence

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Artist: Excepter

Album: Presidence

Label: Paw Tracks

Review date: Feb. 11, 2010

For some time now, Excepter’s modus operandi has been to release vast quantities of material, much of it live recordings and extended jams via their podcasts. The combination of regular albums and large amounts of free additional material isn’t new, but the extent to which Excepter seems to want to expose themselves is greater than most. It raises questions about the "freemium" model for bands, as well as about self-editing and the risk-vs.-benefit of flooding the market. 2008’s Debt Dept emphasized the band’s rhythmic, structured side, while much of their other material is comparatively formless.

Presidence is less an album than a scrapbook, over two hours of self-styled "long distance music" spread across two CDs or 193MB of digital downloads. The songs range from solo synthesizer outings to live-in-studio suites featuring all six members of Excepter, with recordings from 2003 through 2008. All are generally amorphous, electronics-driven works, often with a slow, simple drum machine rhythm serving as a propulsive foundation. Whereas the songs on Debt Dept and, to a less extent, Alternation seemed to have been brought together for a reason, Presidence is more like the band’s podcasts, a collection of tracks offered as-is, almost as if the band is simply saying, "Here, check out this stuff."

The six-part "Teleportation" occupies half of the first disc, recorded as a continuous improvisation in the studio, and is a good summary of the overall approach here. Part slow industrial rhythms and wailing voices, part bubbling spaced-out cosmic waves, it moves quickly from inspired to dull and back again, as is the way with much improv. To their credit, the inspiration wins out the majority of the time: try the heavily early-industrial-inspired part 4, a.k.a. "GOL," with its rhythmic chug straight out of Cabaret Voltaire’s first efforts. Elsewhere, Excepter adeptly channel Throbbing Gristle’s shuffling beats and groaning vocals (see "When You Call").

The long, extended space-outs similarly have their moments both good and bad: the repetitive solo synth of the title track, the slow inner-space drone of "Og," the dreamy "Anti-Noah," and "The Open Well" with its slow-motion Residents feel. The latter’s weird groaning vocals and woodwind sounds are intriguing, but don’t invite repeat listens, while the others float between background atmospherics and ominous nightmare soundtracks, equal parts Cluster and Nurse with Wound.

Ultimately, Excepter’s decision to let things stretch out and fall where they may can be looked at as either a form of artistic honesty or a failure of self-criticism. Perhaps it’s both. After all, "The Open Well" is a selection from a 17-hour performance, from which other excerpts are available on YouTube. Some might feel that the longer pieces here would be stronger if they were edited down, but others could just as legitimately say that there’s an honesty in presenting the full works.

People have been debating the "edit or not" question ever since recording began, of course, so it’s nothing to be settled here. But with their extensive publishing and now the long-form pieces on Presidence, Excepter raise the question once again. Where you find yourself on the spectrum will likely reflect your appreciation of the wide-open songs here.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of Excepter

Vacation/Forget Me


Self Destruction


Streams 01

Debt Dept.

Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

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