Attack on Memory
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Attack On Memory
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In the interval since the 2011 release of Cloud Nothings, Baldi toured widely and put a great deal of focus on his live show. After playing the same sets nightly for months on end, Baldi saw the rigidity of his early work, and he wanted to create arrangements that would allow for more improvisation and variability when played on the road. To accomplish this desired malleability, the entire band decamped to Chicago where the album was recorded with Steve Albini. Insetting out to do so, Baldi and co. have created an album that shows vast growth in a still very young band.
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The opening track, "No Future/No Past," attempts to strike a clear demarcation between Attack on Memory and Dylan's earlier four track bedroom recordings. The song, a slow marching dirge, builds from a whisper to a throat searing scream, and it helps form the atmosphere of the rest of the album. But despite this new approach, Dylan can't help but write some surprisingly catchy tunes. Sure, he's traded in much of his nasally delivery for a scream that seems to start and stop in his trachea, but underneath the self-torment lies a talented songwriter. In fact, a couple of the songs, such as "Fall In" and "Stay Useless," could have easily have slid into one of his earlier albums without causing much disruption.
Attack on Memory relies on two elements to truly differentiate itself from Cloud Nothings's first two full lengths: a full band and Steve Albini's production. The centerpiece of the entire album, the nearly nine-minute long "Wasted Days," could never have been pulled off as a bedroom recording. The song's energy depends on multiple guitar dynamics and clear shifts from one movement to the other. This fuller sound is only enhanced by Albini's steel hard production sound. Albini is famous for his hands off approach to producing, allowing the sound of his studio to do all the work for him. Like Bruce Lee, he relies on the "style of no style." And here much of the album feels as if it were recording in an ancient cave, the band surrounded by long forgotten glyphs. And what better environment for Dylan's intonation of easy self-disgust. At times the album recalls Albini's most famous production work, Nirvana's In Utero. And while Dylan doesn't have Cobain's gift for layers of irony and somersaulting wordplay, he takes advantage of Albini's skills to evoke elemental feelings of anger and distrust that can be found in the common 20-year-old American male.
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