Niagara: Hyperocean (Monotreme, 2016)

May 11, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Niagara: Hyperocean

Niagara: Hyperocean

First and foremost: this is not the Detroit artist Niagara who was once the vocalist for Destroy All Monsters. Nor is it any of the other bands called Niagara (it seems like every country has at least one). This is an Italian experimental electronic duo making glitchy, dreamy, sometimes hyperactive avant-pop. Sometimes they use a sea of samples (as in opener “Mizu”), other times they use their own distorted vocals. “Escher Surfers” starts with a staccato melodic loop reminiscent of Olive’s “You’re Not Alone” (I still love that song, not gonna lie), then surrounds it with clacking drums and multi-tracked vocals. The duo pack an enormous amount of detail into their fractured, rapidly flickering songs. They feel like they’re overflowing with activity sometimes, but they’re still structured in some sort of song structure. Basically, it’s a headphone album and takes several listens to fully absorb. Once you do, you uncover worlds of sinister voices, abrasive beats, and melting/flaming computer data. It gets messy and violent at times, like on the intense “Roger Water”. Yet there’s still an underlying calmness to even the most striking moments. There’s so much uneasiness, but even the album’s ugly moments pull you in. I don’t feel like I’ve unpacked nearly everything there is to discover inside this album.

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