Well, this is it. Adebisi Shank, only questionably ever ‘there’ at the best of times, have gone off the deep end. I say this because no sane group of people could have produced This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank.
Following the well-worn Irish math rock band tradition of utterly losing it on your third release, a custom exemplified by And So I Watch You From Afar’s All Hail Bright Futures, the Shank appear to have set out to top the stirling effort of their fellow Sargent House band and produce something even brighter and flashier.
While they were admittedly always a little bizarre, on this album AS almost totally jettison what traditional rock sound they maintained on This Is The First and the slightly more eccentric This Is The Second and instead fully adopt synths, bring back the heavily modulated voices in force and add crushed, 8-bit-esque guitar tones. Every instrument (besides one bizarre but beautiful piano passage in ‘Voodoo Vision’) has been stripped down, had flashing lights attached to it and programmed to create psychedelic robot rock. I swear I actually heard a dial-up tone in there somewhere. This album feels very much like a natural progression of what made the band’s sound so unique on prior albums, but this time with every setting turned to full.
It wouldn’t be an Adebisi Shank album if it stopped there though. ‘Mazel Tov’ is a cheesy synth funk number with saxophones and a slide whistle burbling away in the background; ‘Turnaround’ is practically an electronic Irish jig; and ‘Chaos Emerald’ features what is either a set of Uilleann pipes or a guitar doing a very good impression of one. These experiments work brilliantly, and help bring yet more musical flavour to the table. The name ‘Chaos Emeralds’ gives a major clue to what is going on sonically in This Is The Third – it sounds like an attempt to recapture the feel of early 90s Sega game soundtracks (Sonic 2 springs to mind). The elongated bridge in ‘Turnaround’ provides probably the most compelling evidence of this.
While not the most traditionally math release, if you like your music weird, colourful, artificial and adrenaline churning, with hints of retro gaming pastiche, look no further than This Is The Third. Just thinking about it exhausts me.