Resonator, Lost Language | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Resonator, Lost Language


Published August 16, 2006 at 4:53 p.m.

(Self-released, CD)

Plattsburgh-based trio Resonator have an intriguing pedigree. Members include a Montréal-born, indie-record store employee who formerly pounded skins for metalcore champs Drowningman, an Olympian luger on guitar and a bassist who cites "the Adirondacks" as an influence alongside The Melvins and Mike Watt. These curious facts might not give a clear idea of what to expect from the band, but they make perfect sense after listening to Lost Language.

Plattsburgh's proximity to the post-rock Mecca of Montréal is reflected in Resonator's dramatic and atmospheric style. But to dismiss the band as clones of their better-known neighbors is to do them a great disservice.

Resonator engage in what might have once been called "jamming" in the days before "jam" became not only a genre, but a dirty word to well-washed music fans everywhere. Each of their songs is the product of extended improvisations, which are subsequently refined in the studio. This working method gives their material a unique character.

In the course of a single tune, it's possible to hear skittering dance-punk hi-hats, tribal interludes, Daniel Ash-style guitar, impassioned tremolo crescendos and faux Middle Eastern melodic breaks.

Resonator admirably takes each of these elements to their logical conclusion, occasionally pushing beyond their technical abilities. Still, the band shines amidst such chaos, as the music threatens to collapse but never quite does. They fare particularly well on the album's final, 24-minute epic "Departures/Arrivals." Here, they go to another kind of extreme, stripping things down to a dub-inflected drum-and-bass pulse backed by a quiet wash of guitar.

The trio certainly has grand ambitions. On their MySpace page they state, "Our music is a form of collaborative expression. We strive to convey our impressions of the world around us in language that is our own, but understandable to anyone willing to listen. We believe that music can break down the barriers that separate us from one another socially and culturally."

That's a lofty goal for a recording that lasts a little under an hour, but Resonator has made a serious go of it. In a time when most indie-rock bands are content to settle into the well-worn ruts of their predecessors, such drive is commendable.