Anklebiter :: Weight of a Pronoun (The Crime League)

Portland, Oregon based Tanner Volz, aka Anklebiter, wants you to know that without his collaborators, Weight of a Pronoun wouldn’t have happened. “I doubt I would have made another album without those guys,” he said, referring to the half-dozen musicians who make guest appearances on the album, his fifth full-length outing and first on Toronto’s Crime League label. We owe them our thanks, then; without the addition of these twelve heartfelt tracks to our listening options, the universe would be a poorer place.

Opener “Joey Gladstone” lurches into the room with a staggering, ominous beat and severely screwed vocal samples; the twisted funhouse atmosphere deepens as detuned accordion, pizzicato harpsichord and bass blasts vie for primacy. The heaviness is leavened with stylistic variety though, which veers from organic, live-and-loose sounding drum/synth pieces like the snarkily-titled “Self Esteem is Killing America” and “Never Like This,” to swoopy classic IDM vibes like “Tickle Monster” and “Error Peak” (co-produced with n5md fav Dreissk) which feature complex beats and lovely, cavernous reverberation over their delicate synth lines. “Never Like This” also features Anomie Belle on violin and Don Gunn on drums and feels, refreshingly, more like a traditional band than most of Anklebiter’s n5md/Tympanik labelmates would be comfortable with. Fortunately for them, “Rando” and “Cockshuttle” follow close on the heels and walk the album back from the precipice of folktronica, squarely into industrial think-piece territory.

Jatun, another of Volz’ estimable collaborators, is credited with guitar and modular synthesizer on half the tracks on the album but it’s not clear whether it’s both guitar and synth on all of them or some subset thereof; through the haze of glitch and audio effects it can be hard to pick out what was going on in the studio that led to the sounds emanating from the speakers. But it’s clear that the pairing works. “Werewolf of Portland” in particular, melds a moody laptop piece with a bright arpeggiated line, causing the track to evolve in a totally unexpected direction halfway through—this might be the strongest track on the album.

The album’s closers are contemplative. Anklebiter introduces his final collaborator, Laird Sheldahl, on “Why We Write,” a head-nodding lo-fi piece, then fat analog space-ambient murk gives birth to a diaphanous, delay-ridden toybox melody in “Golden Age of Terrible Photography” (perhaps it was run through the Valencia filter?), which yields in turn to mounting walls of shoegaze guitar haze until… curtain drop. Applause, scattered audience members standing in deep appreciation, the whole house hoping for an encore.

Weight of a Pronoun is available on The Crime League.

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