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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slack Armada - Slack Armada

Slack Armada - Slack Armada
2013, Slack Armada

Slack Armada is the performance name of James Hrabak, a multi-instrumentalist who recently returned to making music after a 15 year side-trip into 9-5 career.  The random arrival of a musical catalog into Hrabak’s life, combined with the plethora of musical communities available online encouraged him to make music again.  What was post-punk shoe gaze fifteen years ago has turned into vacillations of sound and rhythm that often eschew form for aesthetics on Slack Armada’s self-titled debut EP.

Slack Armada kicks off with "Rebirth", a mid-tempo composition full of minimalist loops and simple, new age style synth sounds; Not so much a composition as a Jackson Pollock style collection of notes and rhythms, listeners will tire of this quickly. The compositional style is more expansive on "Your Majesty", which uses synth and faux bells to create the atmosphere of a holiday tune. There isn't a hard theme or melody here to latch onto, but there are suggestions of melodic form in the arrangement that are interesting enough. "Looper" brings a darker and heavier sound to the fore, but the arrangement is rote and repetitive, falling under its own weight.  "Escape  Velocity" never matches its name, becoming bogged down in repetitive and mind numbing rhythms and loops. 

Slack Armada’s muse is boundless and without real form if you consider the looped rhythms a theoretical construct rather than a palpable one. Slack Armada is often self-referential and denies any real sense of creative construction, leaving the listener somewhat lost in the process.  Electronic music fans that prefer being stuck in an artistic and ill-defined loop with love Slack Armada, but listeners who look for something deeper in the music will quickly move on.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

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