Tidal Arms’ new self-titled album is an eclectic outing drawing on genres as far flung from each other as noise rock and dream pop, heavy metal and jazz.
Compressed under a layer of sludge, the selection of genres sit waiting to take their turn at the forefront of the music.
As they step up, the style being pushed aside presses against the newly prevailing direction of the moment just enough to leave traces of itself throughout the album. No one style ever really ‘disappears,’ but simply subsides enough to allow a wave of metal, noise, or whatever it may be, to pass through and take centre stage.
There’s also noticeable emotional shifts; the melancholy intro to Dunston Mass makes a U-turn into an upbeat rock riff you might associate with Queens Of The Stone Age or the Foo Fighters before heading down into the dark, filthy alleyways of grimey sludge.
No less remarkable is Jungle Of Dust, which whips through labyrinthine riffs you might associate with Mastodon or The Ocean. But then there’s also the slow-paced Molasses which, a bit obviously, is a treacle-thick sludge track – not, however, before its moved through some superb post-rock melodic atmospheres and distant vocals which sound like the microphone was held up to the bottom of a goldfish bowl whilst singer Tom Tierney sung through the top. If that sounds bad on paper (yes, web), don’t worry, it’s not – it’s just interesting.
You can stream Gooski’s Ladder here:
What’s really striking about this album are the psychedelic touches adding colour and taste to what might otherwise be something a bit more along the lines of vanilla-flavoured stoner metal. Tide Alarms is the prime example of this. Its dissonant lead guitar lines hover around the edges of music, like a fly putting you off from the delicious meal of riffs.
With repeated listening, it’s surprising how much extra detail you can pick out that you missed the first time. It’s subtle (for a sludge album, I mean), and there’s an extraordinary amount of depth captured by the trio. In its almost-grunge sections, I’m very much reminded of the excellent Godstopper album which I reviewed earlier this year, in the way that it challenges existing genres without losing listenability.
There are a couple of tracks which are a little bit turgid; the drawn out Beach Torture has some nice ideas in juxtaposing noise and melody, but simply goes on too long for what it is. In fact, the following track, and finale, Cosmic Donald’s also takes its sweet time to go anywhere, though the lonely guitar chords set against simple drum patterns in the quiet moments are strangely beautiful, in a Grizzly Bear kind of way.
Perhaps it doesn’t have the best choices of closing tracks, but this album is an intelligent foray into a pastiche of styles, utilises imaginative song structures and deftly delivers an unpredictable and very intriguing listen.
For Fans Of: Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Sunn O))), Mastodon, The Ocean.