Richie Smith and Zak King use distorted guitars and rolling drums to concoct a fascinating record.

A ghostly aura lurks within Richie Smith and Zak King’s most recent record, Fallout. The album feels like the middle of a pitch-black winter night; it chills you to the bone with its hypnotic riffs intermingled with prowling drums that lurk in the background. The record puts you on edge, and keeps you there. Smith and King infuse punk, improvisation, and a chaotic hard-rock sound on their new record, and conjure a fascinating listen in the process.

The cores of “Colebrook” and “Take the ‘A’ Train” are calming, with catchy, melodic guitar hooks that are offset by steady drumming. Smith and King are excellent instrumentalists bursting with innovation. The rawness of the song (and honestly, the record altogether) is what makes it so fascinating. The two musicians play off one another throughout, and let the beat (and the riff) take them wherever it goes. The sheer power behind their heavy instrumentation showcases their infectious enthusiasm for sound.

The record is not formulaic. “Wanderer,” for example, ensnares with deep, echoed drums that sound deliberately faint, like they’ve been recorded from far away, emanating loneliness. A distorted guitar sneaks in to offset the faint drums and together, they begin to build into a powerful explosion of sound. The warped hooks and creepy, twisted notes of the drums are reminiscent of Scottish duo Boards of Canada and composer Christopher Young’s work on the soundtrack of Sinister. As the beat picks up around the five minute mark, the drums and the guitar deviate from one another. The guitar goes rogue with a sprawling string of riffs that are layered, then come back to collide with the drums. The sound becomes brilliantly disjointed; there is no rhythm or pattern, and there doesn’t need to be. Fallout is jumbled—a patchwork of sounds that fit surprisingly well and complement each another effortlessly.

A song of note that differs from the dark tones of the previous tracks, “Alone in the Waves (Part 1),” introduces quick, upbeat punk-infused melodies and demonstrates the wide scope of Smith and King’s experimental project.

Fallout has a staggering sense of urgency, panic and dark aesthetics that creates a fascinating record. The little outbursts from their instrumentation collide and tie the record together incredibly well to create a beautiful mess of uncertainty that ensnares the listener, and doesn’t let you go.

 

 

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