steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Dimstar" CD


Genres: 'avant pop chamber rock', experimental pop, ambient pop

email the band

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.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 14 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2003]