Catalog #: AHE-02
Release date: 2008
3. Mirror Woods
5. Anonymous Men
6. Green Street
8. House Music
10. Western Blocks
11. The Drowning Boy
13. Mother Lode
14. Stuffed Dummy
16. Night Watch (Stranger Part 2)
20. Twilight Sleep
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AHE-02 PRECINCT – Stranger – CD: $10
Stranger is Precinct’s first full length album, though traditional debut it is not. It is the sound of a band already stretching, testing waters in an unfamiliar landscape. In the span of the record Precinct dabble in Factory era post punk, Jah Wobble inspired dub grooves, Sugar Hill hip hop styles, No wave noise themes and straight up rock. All played, performed, and in most cases recorded by the primary duo, who go by the aliases Aleister Kicker and Hugh Swift. With only a four song EP behind them Precinct dive head long into the recording and writing process, the result: a 20 track record that archives their strange metamorphosis into a more electrifying band.
Stranger is not so much a “rock album”, as a sound collage that sandwiches killer singles between free form basement jams. Experiments meld into songs and in turn veer off into new territory. The flow between styles works surprisingly well, the lack of form and melody in tracks like “House Music”, “Western Blocks” and “Hunters” is more than made up for by the solid club attack and hot stepping of songs like “400”, “Hangman” and “Vertigo”. For example in the instrumental piece “Mirror Woods”, they replace the big rock drums and sharp guitars of the previous song with sci-fi synth tracks and acoustic rhythmic patterns, establishing a peaceful ambience that helps form a smooth transition into the next number. In “Hangman” all hell breaks loose, a froggy sax wail skitters over the beat as Aleister leans back and announces the current state, “Post Factory Age! Post Factory Waste! And the stage is set some sensitive state of vanity takes to the surface”.
Whereas most bands of the post punk persuasion armed with death disco beats and angular guitars might load their records to the brim with punchy hits, Precinct are wise not to over use that palette and instead take chances applying and manipulating sounds in their recording process. Referencing the musical adventurism of art minded bands like Swell Maps and The Homosexuals, bands with their own disparate influences, Precinct is able to escape easy labeling. Though they frequently nod to other eras, they are not trapped by it.
Stranger exudes a certain lo-fi atmosphere that only adds to the charm of the music. Although the playing is not note perfect, the energy Precinct generates is often heart stopping. Their artfully sculpted sounds add an aural enjoyment to the less structured tracks, as well as a buffer for the rock numbers to breathe, and their inclusion of free form jams allows the listener an almost secret view of the band, as if witnessing a rehearsal. Although disjointed at times and seemingly epic in scope, Stranger is anything but overwrought. It survives not only as a document of a band’s progression but also as a deceptively easy listen.
-CD Includes double-sided 9X9 poster designed by artist Tim Lokiec
“Precinct also pit echo against more echo, resulting in a loose, cavernous sound that will bounce between the synapses in yr brain until it finds purchase. “Anonymous Men” and “400″ are just the start of the fun; you have to hear all 20 tracks off their latest album, Stranger, to truly understand.”
-Grant Purdum (The Gumshoe Grove – Tiny Mix Tapes)