Extension Chords

Thinking Machines

TMvFM Records, 2013

http://thinkingmachinesband.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/2013

One of Philadelphia's most interesting bands, Thinking Machines has already released several compelling records to date, each one altering, refining, and evolving their sound. Their latest effort, Extension Chords, is yet another atypical approach to their precise songwriting prowess, encompassing alt-rock, prog-rock, shoegaze, space rock, and underlying melody into a listen that is far from what most people consider standard indie rock fare. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

By having generally shorter song lengths than their previous work, Thinking Machines allows themselves to walk many different paths among the 12 very different tracks here. “The Squid” opens with a lengthy, gentle introduction before the buried vocals settle in around the hypnotic atmosphere. It's post-punk meets psyche rock that's as surreal as it is intense. “Gozu” follows with bristling guitars and more emphasis on vocals, and with multiple band members trading vocal duties, it adds even more to the already varied tones. This track is one of the louder moments, a giant helping of their post-everything walls of carefully calculated noise. "Crisis" comes next and moves at a very quick pace, introducing math-rock ideas into the equation with great results.

While the first half of the album lends itself to a certain range of sound, things change pretty quickly after that. "Thorax" slips into a hazy, surreal phase, something not far off from the atmospheric wandering on the last Sparta album. This leads directly into "The Ghost,” a song with thick guitar crunch that erupts into "Sophia,” which borders on being a sludge-metal song. Album closer “Doom.React.Destroy” is the longest song present and seems to encapsulate Thinking Machine's sound perfectly. It's serene than wild, moody yet playful and pushes and pulls with power and emotion from beginning to end.

With plenty of '90s post-punk, DC influences, and complicated patterns that never follow any predetermined lines, Thinking Machines continues to carve out a sound all their own and deliver an album that is both driving and calm, straight to the point yet also very cryptic, and artistic without alienating the listener.

Rating: B+

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