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Electro Group 

A New Pacifica (Omnibus)

Wednesday, Apr 18 2001
When you begin to listen to Electro Group's debut album, A New Pacifica, you know right away that you've got some serious noise to reckon with. The Sacramento trio combines the heady guitar drones and electronic sounds of Stereolab with the full-force guitar feedback onslaught of Sonic Youth: It recalls a laundry dryer spinning the Lab's Mars Audiac Quintet while SY's Goo plays over the intercom.

The bands Electro Group brings to mind share a certain transcendent quality brought on by the loudness of the music combined with the complexity of its layers. First you hear the dirge and the feedback, then you experience the melody and the harmony, and then you feel the basement effect of it all -- the reverberating totality of all the parts, the unexpected rapport between the disparate vocal and nonvocal elements.

The disc opens with an attention-grabbing, 20-second tape-loop orchestral/ instrumental track and then segues into "La Ballena Alegria," a study in heavy bass, assorted guitar sounds, and vocals both harmonious and dissonant. It soon becomes clear that the main musical influence on Electro Group is My Bloody Valentine, the clamorous and innovative group whose album Loveless spawned a million copycat bands back in 1991. Like that record, A New Pacifica combines high, detached vocals and melodic verses with grinding guitar and plenty of feedback.

It's a promising debut and, due to the layered quality of the group's compositions, rewards multiple listens. The first time you listen to "Biped," for example, you think you get the idea, but each time you hear it, it changes your mind, demanding to be reheard. The first impression is always wrong, and that's a strength. The songs are not uniformly interesting, however, and a less-than-ardent listener might never get to the best stuff, which starts with the seventh track, "Continental," and continues through the remaining eight tunes.

If Electro Group has a weakness, it is probably that it is struggling under the weight of its influences. The band's songs are melodic and noisy, but not as melodic or noisy as My Bloody Valentine's. Its vocals are dreamy and multilayered, but not as dreamy and multilayered as the other bands it calls to mind. Make no mistake, however: A New Pacifica shows great potential, and it is clear that the group's members are on their way to harnessing a truly original and almighty kind of noise.

About The Author

Jill Stauffer


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