ROGUE SOUNDS: It, by There Lives, Might Need Bit More “It”
It used to be hard as fudge to put out an album. They were an expensive pain in the ass and no one made one on a whim. Computers have changed that, generally for the better. But sometimes it’s not as clear cut.
That’s the case with It, a new recording from There Lives, the electronic music project by Ashlander Robert Elliott Morris, which was released to Bandcamp in mid-October.
The eight track collection is billed as psychedelic electronic music, and it certainly has those elements, though some of them feel highlighted more by accident than design.
The album opens with “Dance,” a sparse, rhythmically-challenged tune that pulls its psychedelia from the slightly spastic feel of the beat and echoes back and forth between two chords.
That is followed by “Diamond Ruff,” with live drums fading in and out beneath groans of feedback, the heavily-reverbed Nick Cave-esque vocals of “I Want My House in a Middle of a Mountain Town,” and a lo-fi Joy Division sounding tune called “If You Won’t Be Mind.”
The album’s sixth song, “Phase,” is one of its strongest, with a driving beat and a buzzy synth bass line. However it sounds more like a mix with the vocals muted than a standalone instrumental track. A melody on bells comes in a bit too late to keep it from being repetitive.
The album’s best song is its seventh, “Uncle Lance,” which has a gnarly, overdriven riff on the keyboards that echoes back and forth as its spine, and a tightly clipped snare that drives it forward.
What’s interesting about the collection is how the songs get better and better conceived as it goes along, almost like they’re a progressive series of experiments or compositions, each slightly more skilled than the last, which is interesting to hear, especially since the experimental nature jives well with the psychedelic billing, but it sort of undermines It as being a polished final product. Which is a shame. There’s some really great sounds and moments, and with a bit more work, they might edge their way up from Bandcamp standards to those of the pre-computer days.