“Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure.” is a saying of Zen Buddhism. I quoted it because I was looking for something to express how I felt about the musical changes undergone by the Portland-based band CHROMATICS. Starting in 2001, the band originally featured a sound that characterizes true punk music, for it was mainly noisy and chaotic. Their 2003 debut album Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz came along as a post-punk, lo-fi art work that gained lots of plaudit. However, it was at this point already that the band had to face the nature of change. Due to several other projects, the band broke apart, leaving only Adam Miller to represent the initial line-up. After a few replacements to follow, the band now consists of Ruth Radelet (vocals), Adam Miller (guitar), Nat Walker (drums), and Johnny Jewel (multi-instrumentalist).
So far so good. But back to the quote I gave you in the beginning. Let me put it as follows: when a band changes their musical attitude from punk over dark disco to electropop, I’m tempted to challenge this development as a matter of fact. Punk music, which so refuses any musical embellishment through technological equipment, has morphed into dreamy, beautiful sounds created by diverse synthesizers, harmonizers, an electric piano, a rhythm machine and so forth, to only name a few. However, in the case of the CHROMATICS, this metamorphosis turns out to be a magnificent one. Undoubtedly, their latest album Kill For Love feels like a time warp, submitting to the laws of time and progress. After having listened to the record a several times, I feel confident to say that I made up with this radical kind of transformation, because it is simply a wonderful long-play.
The whole album includes 17 tracks. It took the band five years to finish Kill for Love, which was recorded in seven cities: Montreal, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis, Paris, Jakarta, and the band’s hometown of Portlandia. I find it somehow a pretty venture to describe every single song according to its composition and atmosphere. Each song can be perceived very individually. Several tracks feature typical new wave sounds that are characterized by melodic and reverb drenched guitars and keyboards, minimalist bass lines, and electronic beats, whereas others sound like synthesized versions of soft indie rock or future pop. Beyond the pop-rock instrumentation and electronic effects, the sound is embellished with orchestral elements, which makes the record sound even more magical. The opener Kill For Love is such a hypnotizing track that will definitely get you psyched for the rest of record. With the whole album Kill For Love, I’d say that the band managed to create a piece of music art work that is suitable for every moment of your life, for it includes a fair amount of variety in terms of style, length, and mood. It feels like you can listen to it day and night, it’ll always accompany you in the perfect tone, for it is somehow timeless in its embracing of the past, present, and future. The album is cohesively aesthetic, with its middle third being mellower and including three dreamy instrumentals. After 76 minutes, Kill For Love ends with a 14-minute instrumental song entitled No Escape, which perfectly closes the record to full circle. All in all, the record is a 90-minute trance that seems to start at some point in eternity and to end at another. The patient wait for this album was definitely worth it, and here it is for you now to immerse yourself with the beautiful sounds of electropop music.
If this ain’t enough for you, the band offers a drumless version of the album, containing eleven songs with no percussion, which is available for free download.
from Portland, Oregon