Floor

Oblation

Written by: AP on 21/07/2014 21:47:16

Floor was always an entropic band: in their original dozen years of existence from 1992 to 2002, the band burned through as many members, output nearly as many short EPs and singles scattered on various split releases, and never quite managed to forge the success guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks went on to achieve with Torche. But in order to understand where the unique ideas underlying that group's 2008 pop-sludge masterpiece "Meanderthal" were envisioned, there is no escaping the legacy of Floor - especially not now, given their nostalgic reunion in 2010 has gradually evolved into much more than sporadic touring as Brooks has found the spare time to write fresh Floor material with his long time accomplices, guitarist/vocalist Anthony Vialon (there from the beginning) & drummer Henry Wilson (who has been with Floor since 1997). Those sessions have borne fruit, condensing into the trio's first studio album in 12 years: "Oblation".

Markedly less energetic than Torche, it is a more tempered beast, albeit no less crushing thanks to the able hands of one Kurt Ballou and Brooks'/Vialon's continuing insistence to tune down their twelve strings to the introductory letters of the alphabet. Floor count no bassist among their ranks, but that reality is likely to be a surprise to most when witnessing the rumbling foundation of songs like "Oblation" and "Find Away" for the first time. Of course even under the bruising weight of the songs, Floor distinguish themselves from others of their ilk with this strange and addictive knack for infusing the sweetest pop into their music - an approach many a critic took to dubbing doom-pop even when the piss poor production of old did its best to hide the contrast. Ballou, though, has brought it to the forefront, and as a result of both this mix depth and the increased dynamics of "Oblation" in relation to its predecessor, it is, at the very least, the best of Floor's two studio albums.

There are other novelties to "Oblation", too: compelling lyrical choices such as Brooks' tale of Don Quixote's horse in the galloping "Rocinante" or the homosexual love-hate-love lunge in "New Man"; an impressive harmony with Wilson's girlfriend, Melissa Friedman, in the easygoing "Homegoings and Transitions" - a song she wrote, no less; and the mammoth "Sign of Aeth", which clocks in at almost eight minutes and stands in stark contrast with the compact style Floor have always preferred. Its trudge through a smoky preamble, moody blues and oddly psychedelic patterns that peel away from one another is almost as queer an experience as the exchange of Brooks' trademark exclamatory voice for a multi-tracked monotone in closing track "Forever Still". But despite raising an eyebrow, these details, it is largely the more traditionally disposed material à la "Find Away", "Sister Sophia" and "War Party", all warm fuzz and earth rattling power, that form the definitive highlights.

The trouble is, these standout moments are rarer than they should be given Brooks' ability to curve virtually every bit of Torche into an unforgettable song. And while upon closer inspection there is very little actual weakness to the remainder of the album, it sorely misses the edge and nerve of Floor's successor, as it were. Still, "Oblation" offers a rigid history lesson about the origins of Torche, and the strength of its most notable tracks outlined below is ample reason to give the whole record a spin.

7

Download: Oblation, Find Away, New Man, Sister Sophia, War Party
For the fans of: Big Business, Helms Alee, Torche
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.04.2014
Season of Mist

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