Anchor

Zammuto

Temporary Residence, 2014

http://zammutosound.com

REVIEW BY: Ken DiTomaso

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/30/2014

Nick Zammuto's self-titled solo debut was my favorite record of 2012, so naturally my expectations were for a follow-up of comparable style and quality. Unfortunately, his second album isn't quite as strong as its predecessor.

Exceedingly detailed and crisp production remains Zammuto's greatest strength. He might just have the most pristine rhythm section in modern rock music. The bass tone is delightful and the percussion is dry and upfront often carrying the songs. Despite its clarity, the record still carries a distinct homegrown quality to it, which is thoroughly charming. Production quality aside, however, this record couldn't be more different from his debut. It's as introverted as his previous effort was extroverted. The bold colors and broad stokes of his last record have transformed into muted tones and subtle textures. It's a sound more befitting his previous outfit The Books in some ways. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Anchor plays like the music of someone who is relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, and as a result, the adventurous spirit that I adored on his last record is severely downplayed.

If this album demonstrates anything, it's that Zammuto has developed into a master of texture and atmosphere. The various sounds that appear are highly tweaked and constantly evolving and changing. The attention to detail in these mixes is staggering and quite rewarding for those who desire to pay close attention.

By far, this album's biggest issue is that the actual songwriting is in service of the textures and atmosphere rather than the other way around. This results in an disc that, despite its impeccable assembly, almost completely fails to stick with me in the long run. The melodies on this album are wispy and meandering and simply don't come across as having had as much care put into them as the sounds that the songs are surrounded by.

It comes as no surprise then that the biggest highlights for me are by far the more lively tracks, since these catch the ear more quickly even without engaging melodies to latch on to. My favorite track could have been the spiraling instrumental closer “Code Breaker,” but right when it seems like it's going to reach a climax, it suddenly stops, bringing the album to an awkwardly abrupt conclusion. “Great Equator” instead rises to the top, combining all the best qualities of the languid atmosphere of the record with a driving rhythm and thrilling reverb-heavy synth bursts. “Hegemony” and “IO” are similarly lively tracks, but like “Code Breaker,” they are so brief that they feel as if they've been edited down from longer versions.

Anchor still maintains Zammuto's experimental streak, but it's not an album that will leave you scratching your head. Instead it's one that will leave you feeling like you're cozied up in front of a fireplace in a log cabin. And while that might be a great feeling for a little while, too many nights in front of the same fire can get a little dull.

Rating: B-

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