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Rhizomatic Baby

Rhizomatic Baby
(Statler & Waldorf)

Printer is a four piece group who started out playing more standard rock fare. As time wore on, their drummer morphed into a keyboard player while their main guitar player dropped the axe in favor of the laptop. With these two member changes, the sound of the group changed dramatically as well, moving into a more electronic pop territory with indie-rock leanings. Rhizomatic Baby is the second release from the group (following up on their debut Absence EP).

Influences for the group sound like everyone from New Order to the Junior Boys, but Printer favors less austere soundscapes for slightly glitch-damaged environments and fuzzed-out keyboard basslines that growl through several tracks with a primal, almost EBM feel. One of the most successful tracks on the entire release is the opener of "Don't Expect," which really doesn't sound like any of the other tracks on the release. A 4/4 kick with static pops and crackles thumps away under overlapping keyboard melodies and an energetic bassline while vocals that sound like a subdued Thom Yorke provide the perfect human touch. From there, things change as "Oh Yeah" and "Flicking" both rumble away with heavy beats and super juicy synth basslines that growl while delayed vocals and other effects make the tracks feel like they're built much more for the dancefloor.

That trend continues with "Singsong" and tweaked-out acid flavorings of "Nightclub" as the group takes things in much less subtle directions in favor of dirty grooves and more processed vocals. While none of these upbeat tracks are bad, the group is much better when they're weaving more subtle melodies and toning down the beats. "Goodnight" arrives towards the end of the album with a pretty melodica melody floating over a liquid bassline and a soft bed of hiss and crackles while "Erased By The Swans" pushes out gurgling layers of soft synth washes alongside soaring vocals.

In some ways, there's such a dramatic break between the two sides of the group that it's hard to follow the release at times. There are several points at which an almost over-the-top dancefloor vocal dance track follows a lush, textural offering, and it's somewhat distracting. By the time the album closing "Untitled (Fightclub remix)" hits (which sounds like Pole remixed with a touch of Sigur Ros), it's still hard to know what to expect from the young group. Rhizomatic Baby is ambitious in places and obvious in others, the sound of a young group still messing with their sound.

Rating: 6.25