forming in 2007, New York’s
five-piece Apache Beat has been garnering high praise from mainstream music
media outlets, like Pitchfork, NME AND
NYLON for their avant-garde art-rock.
It’s a bewildering and hypnotizing soundscape, one that, as their moniker would
suggest, calls forth the rhythms of the ancestral land. But the experimental reverberations
the collective has crafted in the last three years has only been released in
demo form – until now, finally releasing their debut album, Last Chants, to much anticipation.
by Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Swans) and mixed by John Agnello (The Kills, Dinosaur
Jr, Sonic Youth), Last Chants unfortunately falls short of the hype. From the bouncy 8-bit digital stomps of
“Knives,” to the haunting ambiance of the swirling “Walking on Fire,” and the
droning melodic whirlwind and fuzzy primitive static of closer, “Another Day,”
the album’s mysticism feels somewhat forced. There’s this almost robotic
formula of electro-tribal trudges and cacophonous build ups/breakdowns that Last Chants seems to follow, as if it
was just a chore. It’s too phonically consuming – a pregnant belly of
calculated tempo accelerations, insistent percussion yelps, yearning sonic
minimalism, and aping vocal invocations provided by Ilirjana, Apache Beat’s
entrancing and uniquely voiced frontwoman.
not to say that Last Chants isn’t a
listen-worthy first outing. The aboriginal drum pounds and moonlit animal howls
of “Let It Go” and the evocative chants and asperous strings of “Tropics” toss
you into a knee-jerk rain dance, while the cherubic quiet of the relaxing “It
Will Be” evoke visions of an early morning dawn. Even the title track is a
noteworthy measure, with its muted celestial intonations and floating choral
breaths drawing you in and the Eastern rhythmic twinkles and primordial bonfire
pickups shoving you out. Still, these tracks are not enough for Last Chants to justify the band’s hype
to date. Hopefully, though, their sophomore record won’t suffer the same.
DOWNLOAD: “Let It
Go,” “Tropics,” “It Will Be” ANNAMARYA SCACCIA