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Invisible Things - Home IS the Sun

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Artist: Invisible Things

Album: Home IS the Sun

Label: Porter

Review date: Jan. 8, 2013

Invisible Things - "Because.It’s.NOT.Real.Yet."

For just over a decade, Mark Shippy played some of the most inventive, exciting and confounding rock guitar around. In U.S. Maple, Shippy took the highs and Todd Rittman the lows, and the pair did things with their guitars that still sound as weird, warped and invigorating as they did a decade ago. Shippy has been active since U.S. Maple’s 2005 dissolution, but there’s not been much recorded evidence of what he’s been up to. In Invisible Things, Shippy finds a worthy partner in former Parts & Labor drummer Jim Sykes, and the duo’s debut, Home IS the Sun is proof that Shippy’s still able to do remarkable things with guitar strings.

Comprised of 17 tracks that flow into one another to form a single, shape-shifting, hour-long suite, Home IS the Sun is a journey only loosely based on any discernable map, a compilation of seemingly simple songs, churning rhythmic workouts, and frenetic free-for-alls. “Before.the.Seventh.” opens the album with what proves to be an anomalously straightforward dose of rock ‘n’ roll, one of the few tracks that features human voices sans the heavy saturation of effects. The track drifts towards chaos as it ends, a portent of the instability that marks the album. Shippy’s guitar is often drenched in enough reverb to drown a horse and his prickly scrap heap ministrations and spectral strum are equal-opportunity candidates to lift off at any moment and blossom into a distorted explosion of swirling colors and sound trails. Sykes’s drumming is also liable to go off the rails without warning, but he’s the rock in this relationship, minding the store with steady, often pummeling rhythms while Shippy’s off wandering twixt the stars.

The world didn’t exactly need another album of crazy guitar and drums, and at those times in which Home IS the Sun feels like just another, it can be a tiring taskmaster. Shippy and Sykes aren’t forgiving trail guides, and their debut can feel far longer than it is, due to all the unexpected turns and the pair’s relentless approach. I’m not wild about the album’s lackluster vocals, but come to miss them when they virtually disappear from Home IS the Sun’s second half, as they play a big role in the eccentric interplay that is the album’s most compelling quality.

Invisible Things most impressive skills aren’t on display when the music is at full tilt; it’s when, on the spur of the moment, Shippy and Sykes pull the strings that bring everything back to Earth, or when a totally new song slides out from the middle of the one that came before. The psych jam pyrotechnics of the album make for its brightest flair, but not its most nourishing fare.

By Adam Strohm

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