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Don’t fear the future. These are Powers have come to conjure the new musical golden age you’ve been waiting for—one of insistence, intensity, and light. And yes, you can dance to it. These Are Powers are known for the dissonance of their early recordings, a cacophony of rhythms and industrial/electronic experiments that recalled Throbbing Gristle one moment, DNA the next. Once rule-breakers, the band is now rewriting those rules with a newfound focus: behold All Aboard Future. Exotic, abstract, hand-crafted sounds—made, found and electronically born—underscore each of these nine songs. Some wail from Pat Noecker’s prepared bass; others stem from the idiosyncratic vocal and guitar style of Anna Barie. The two trade off vocal duties, and in the process dissonant sounds become melodies held together and torn apart in fits by Bill Salas’ electro-acoustic beats. At first listen, much of Salas’ rhythmic contribution sounds as if it could be pre-programmed, but these abstract rhythms are all performed live, interspersing nods to Timbaland with an appreciation for a car crash’s metal-on-metal grind. Fans of forward thinking sound creators such as Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective and No Age should pay close attention.
Originally released in 2007, Terrific Seasons is These Are Powers’ first full-length album. Terrific Seasons takes off with a punk-like ferocity, recalling the halcyon days of Silver Apples and Throbbing Gristle. It is a poly-rhythmic, frantic, unconventional work that finds These Are Powers utilizing border-line conventional song structures to harness their abstract sounds. From the urgency of opener “You Come With Nothing” to the anthemic croon of “Little Sisters of Beijing,” the distant and sinister meditative sounds of “Drawing Water” and to the sprawling jams of “Pizza Master Ice Cream Palace,” the band covers a tremendous amount of ground throughout their debut.
Taro Tarot is the finest document of These Are Powers’ prowess to date. Following the departure of original drummer Ted McGrath, Chicagoan Bill Salas brings together the bands’ musical ideas concisely and cohesively in just over 20 minutes. It is no easy feat, but on Taro Tarot, These Are Powers demonstrate to the world the power they wield. The low end undercurrent emanating from Noecker’s sub bass tones is like no sound you have ever heard from the four stringed instrument, while the tribal and primitive rhythm of “Chipping Ice” shows that while this band’s music is known to be a heavy sonic excursion, you can also fucking dance to it. The frequency-analyzed sounds of “Cockles” are a thing of beauty, while “Twin Remains” shares a melodic sensibility with SST-era Sonic Youth. These Are Powers pack an eclectic infinity into these six tracks, channeling far-flung musical ideas with their undeniable intuitive sense into an epic, focused statement. Upon one listen to Taro Tarot you will realize These Are Powers have arrived.