Genres: 'avant pop chamber rock', experimental pop,
Feb 16 - 22 2004
Since Full have given themselves the "avant pop chamber
rock" tag, I'm going to break this review down into four
sections. One for each word. Seems fitting, doesn't it?
"Avant" means, of course, "before" in
French. It's that tag that's given to experimental music ahead
of its time - "avant-garde", "avant-rock",
etc. Full certainly lives up to this term; the band's unique, textured songs are frequently quite different from the
norm. Though comparisons can be drawn to the likes of Stereolab
and Portishead, for the most part Full's sound
is completely one-of-a-kind. The layered, melodic smorgasbord of
"Parachute," for example - filled with stray horns, cutting
electronics, and trip-hop-esque vocals - has certain influences but is
on the whole very unusual.
"Pop" suggests melody, infectiousness, and
accessibility. Pop music is usually the most simple,
easy-to-grasp kind of sound - just like pop art. And while Dimstar
is certainly brimming in melodies, they are often not made as obvious
as some listeners may expect. As a result, though Full
certainly makes pop, this album is by no means a collection of
"singles" - some of the planet's more impatient listeners may have a
tough time appreciating the disc's buried hooks.
"Chamber" is used as a prefix, usually either to
"pop", or, as is the case here, to "rock".
It suggests a connection to classical chamber music, injecting songs
with orchestral instruments, like horns and strings.
Once again, Full delivers. Every tune is packed with
cello, trumpet, vibraphone, sax, and more. The results are often
lush, pleasant, and complexly deep and rich-sounding. Though
this means the listener is confronted with a lot to sort out in
his/her mind (tracks like "Break" and "Been Had" can be
initially quite overwhelming), it also means the pieces stay fresh and
enjoyable for the long run.
As for "rock", well, I'm not even going to attempt to
explain it. Some of Dimstar's tracks see Full in
rock onslaught mode - "Trip Up" has a hectic,
rocked-up finale kind of like a Sweep The Leg Johnny tune
(except not twenty minutes long) crossed with some Peter Brotzmann-esque
free jazz squall. Though rock music isn't the largest influence
here, it is certainly present - despite the fact that most true rockers may find
this a bit too calm for their tastes.
So, in conclusion, Full lives up to their billing. If
"avant pop chamber rock" sounds good to you, then perhaps
this will too.
[Vitals: 14 tracks, distributed by the
band, released 2003]