B/B/S/ is certainly topping my Most Non-creative Band Names Ever list, but keeping in mind the number of projects its members Aidan Baker (Nadja), Erik Skodvin (Svarte Greiner, Deaf Center), and Andrea Belfi are in, I think we can forgive them for this one. Thankfully, their music doesn’t suffer any creative issues, and I guess that’s what matters the most.
Palace is the third LP for B/B/S/, but it’s the first time their music has sounded so properly put together. I’m not sure if it’s the result of extensive composing sessions or simply based on free-form improvisations; perhaps it was a mixture of both. Maybe it’s the sound they went for this time—more minimalist, slow, and atmospheric—that made the music so focused and thick. However, what matters most is that it does sound impressively accomplished, structured, and precise. With each track, Palace grows and expands, even if the direction it’s following is definitely not always linear. B/B/S/ doesn’t rely on expected climaxes but prefers to throw the listener into different aspects of their own music experience, keeping the anxiety levels as high as possible.
No, the bass drones and thickening percussion of ‘Cosmow’ will not lead you to a climax; sometimes they will just disintegrate into an even more avant-garde soundscape (‘Butcher Note’), and that will be only so they get even more twisted and complex. Palace carries a strong, dark, and jazzy overall feel, mostly because of the thick, droning low-end and sparse drumming. The floating melodic material and the various obscure textures fine-tune it. Sometimes it’s slightly more accessible, and sometimes it’s just strange, distant, and painfully personal. My favorites are pieces like ‘Combuh’ and ‘Harm Bug’, whose gentle electro-acoustic layers add a great detail to the album and shake the generally avant-garde rock ambiance within it.
However, spanning around eighty minutes, Palace‘s deep atmosphere can at some point lose focus and feel a bit overstretched in time. I’m surprised that I’m saying this, but the album would have been a bit tighter if it had more loud and aggressive tracks in the vein of ‘LA Mom’. The way it plays with anticipation and the fact that most of the music really builds up some tension, you’ll likely just want to hear at least another outburst before it’s all over. Seriously, after over seventy minutes entrenched in their music, you just want to hear these artsy mates go mental and lose it.
02) Butcher Note
03) Navel Oil
05) LA Mom
07) Apple Rug
08) Hogan Pence
09) Harm Bug