Unicorn Harvest’s reissue of their 2013 album Alan’s Tutorials certainly has a lot going on. The bulk of the record is a mass of spiderwebbing, noodle-y guitar riffs interspersed with short, spasmodic bursts of tight rhythm –familiar digs for any math rockers, but what makes Alan’s Tutorials so unique is what they manage to cram in between the well-executed mathiness.
The band hails from New York, which is a surprising discovery considering how distinctly “west coast” the album feels. It practically bleeds California surf rock from every orifice that’s not churning out odd time signatures. On their bandcamp, they recommend Tera Melos’ excellent Patagonian Rats, citing it as one of Alan’s Tutorials’ biggest influences, and it absolutely shows. The sparse, lightly sung, but always singalong vocals are reminiscent of when Nick Reinhart was beginning to showcase his vocals.
However, Unicorn Harvest handles the electronic side of their music with such finesse that they are able to carve their own unique niche. Short, atmospheric electronic tracks punctuate key points on the album, making for a nice change up and offer considerable pacing to the barrage of complex riffs. There are plenty of surprises on the record; riffs that come out of left field, nonsensical “studio chatter” between tracks, and an acoustic closing track that comes as such a jarring and pleasant shocker that I defy anyone to deny its awesomeness in terms of album construction.
Alan’s Tutorials is an album that jumps around relentlessly, but for any fan of the genre, will leave you clinging on for dear life in the best way.