Agent Fresco

A Long Time Listening

Written by: TL on 06/02/2011 17:24:55

Considering how Mt. Unpronouncable decided to stink up European airspace last year, effectively farting on the chances of seeing a lot of good American bands that were meant to play the mainland, I've been feeling for a while that Iceland has been owing us something fierce. Had I not been too busy to listen to recommendations however, it wouldn't have taken me till now, to realize that the island nation actually paid the world back with interest already on November 22nd, in form of "A Long Time Listening", the debut album by Agent Fresco.

You probably have no idea about who this band is however, and while I would use words like 'experimental, scandinavian jazz-rock/math-core', chances are the sound will still strike you as something you couldn't even have imagined in advance. Sure, as a curious music fan, you might have heard your share of bands that think outside of the box, but I dare say that few thrive in experimental soundscapes the way Agent Fresco prove to do on "A Long Time Listening". Mind-boggling rhythms writhe spastically, underneath unpredictable soundscapes, that morph seamlessly from floating, chilly atmospheres, into dense, jagged math-core riffage, and the best thing I can come up with in terms of references, is to ask you people to imagine music that's 50% Mew and 50% The Mars Volta.

Let me tell you, to create such a sound is already a pretty goddamn impressive achievement, but that's not even the best thing about this band. Oh no, what really makes other bands look like they're still sitting in a sandbox, is that while Agent Fresco busily break and bend songwriting conventions with reckless abandon, their product is still catchier than the plague. Songs like "Silhuette Palette", "Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher", "Tiger Veil" and "Above The City Lights" are but a few examples of songs here, that feature refrains that are almost impossible to chase from the mind.

Now, add the fact that the versatility presented over the course of the whopping seventeen songs on offer, is flat out stunning. Openers "Anemoi" and "He Is Listening" show as much right off the bat, first wrapping the listener in a dreamy, ethereal piano melody in the former, before cheekily beating the crap out of you in a fit of Dillinger Escape Plan-esque rage and dissonance in the latter. Songs like "Yellow Nights" and especially the mouthwatering "Translations" employ thick, towering riffage, that feels like a punch to the gut and an orgasm at the same time, while a track like "In The Dirtiest Deep Of Hope" shows a softer-than-velvet side to the band, that gives a certain Matthew Bellamy a run for his money when it comes to classic singing and piano-playing.

Oh, and speaking of the singing, vocalist Arnór Arnarson puts in an otherworldly performance, sounding immaculate whether he sings with chest voice, falsetto, or screams his lungs out. Meanwhile, if you still want some more variety, you can also check out the half-electronic dance-song "Implosion", or you can check out the anthemic, almost Arcade Fire-ish "A Long Time Listening", which appears, as a title-track should, as a revelation of what the band sounds like when putting a plethora of their elements perfectly together.

In all likelyhood though, your first trip through "A Long Time Listening" won't reveal half of this to you, as you'll probably be busy trying to catch your breath in reaction to how flat out amazing it sounds. After a ton of listens, I for one could maybe offer the miniscule complaint, that things get a tiny bit unfocused in some moments towards the end of the record, but on closer inspection, things still appear to have a carefully thought out place. This has had me arguing with myself, over just how much to grade the album, also because I know I'm more likely to convince you guys to listen to it, if I undersell it just a little bit. That would be an injustice though, because when I recount all the sparkling impressions I just put in writing for you, and try to remember when I last heard a record that was anywhere near this good - I just simply can't.


Download: Tiger Veil, A Long Time Listening, Translations, Silhuette Palette
For The Fans Of: Dredg, Mew, Muse, The Mars Volta,
Listen: album stream @

Release Date 22.11.2010
Record Records

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