REVIEW: Apache Beat “Last Chants”

Published on BLURT – Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010

Apache Beat

Last Chants
(Babylon/Beverly Martel Records)

Since forming in 2007, New York’s five-piece Apache Beat has been garnering high praise from mainstream music media outlets, like Pitchfork, NME AND NYLON for their avant-garde art-rock. It’s a bewildering and hypnotizing soundscape, one that, as their moniker would suggest, calls forth the rhythms of the ancestral land. But the experimental reverberations the collective has crafted in the last three years has only been released in demo form – until now, finally releasing their debut album, Last Chants, to much anticipation.

Produced/mixed by Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Swans) and mixed by John Agnello (The Kills, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth), Last Chants unfortunately falls short of the hype. From the bouncy 8-bit digital stomps of “Knives,” to the haunting ambiance of the swirling “Walking on Fire,” and the droning melodic whirlwind and fuzzy primitive static of closer, “Another Day,” the album’s mysticism feels somewhat forced. There’s this almost robotic formula of electro-tribal trudges and cacophonous build ups/breakdowns that Last Chants seems to follow, as if it was just a chore. It’s too phonically consuming – a pregnant belly of calculated tempo accelerations, insistent percussion yelps, yearning sonic minimalism, and aping vocal invocations provided by Lirgana, Apache Beat’s entrancing and uniquely voiced frontwoman.

It’s not to say that Last Chants isn’t a listen-worthy first outing. The aboriginal drum pounds and moonlit animal howls of “Let It Go” and the evocative chants and asperous strings of “Tropics” toss you into a knee-jerk rain dance, while the cherubic quiet of the relaxing “It Will Be” evoke visions of an early morning dawn. Even the title track is a noteworthy measure, with its muted celestial intonations and floating choral breaths drawing you in and the Eastern rhythmic twinkles and primordial bonfire pickups shoving you out. Still, these tracks are not enough for Last Chantsto justify the band’s hype to date. Hopefully, though, their sophomore record won’t suffer the same.

DOWNLOAD: “Let It Go,” “Tropics,” “It Will Be” ANNAMARYA SCACCIA


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