LIARS - 1/1 (Music For The Motion Picture)

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2018-07-20
LIARS - 1/1 (Music For The Motion Picture)
LIARS - 1/1 (Music For The Motion Picture)

Last year's breakup of the early-aughts, experimental punk-rock electronic, geniuses, Liars, was a major loss for music. It would be challenging to pin-down Liars' best record. I've heard cases made for their first four records as being some of the most important music of the last two decades. Their more recent work, though slightly less critically acclaimed, is equally interesting for the way it transitions from the punk styling of the band's early records into what more recently felt like a German electro dance-pop outfit. Personally, I prefer Liars' work circa Drums Not Dead to their more recent electronica fare but, regardless of your persona preferences, Liars remained vital to their last day. Liars' swansong, the soundtrack to the forthcoming film, 1/1, perfectly sums-up what we will miss about the duo while also tantalizingly hinting at what might have come next.

To be clear, Liars' work on 1/1 has more in common with a film score than with free-standing, fully-realized, pop songs. With that in mind, 1/1 director, Jeremy Phillips did not have any shot film to send the duo when they were enlisted for the project. Instead, Phillips presented ideas and abstract concepts to the group in order to evoke the mood he hoped would pair well the film's ultimate tone. Dissonant reverb and feedback, ambient sounds, establish an unsettling mood and set atop circadian beats which feel almost primitive in origin, like dripping water or a bounding pulse. While I have yet to see Phillip's film, the feel established by the soundtrack is a sonic contradiction: naturally-unnatural; almost cybernetic.

The opening track, "No Now Not Your Face" shambles to life in fits and starts of irregular beat layers and humming keyboard attacks. As quickly as No Now Not Your Face" builds, it disappears into the near-nonexistence of "Cottagevej" which quietly thumps and clicks along before fading into nothing. "Helsingor Lane" features the album's first vocal parts which wail forth from a velvety soundscape in a sort of call-and-response exchange. It amounts to a sound akin to a Thom Yorke duet with Isaac Brock--if Isaac was on a heavy dose of thorazine.

Other highlights include the clipped and twitchy "Caused By The Pitch" and "Liquorice", 1/1 Sndtk's most fully-realized song and, for this rather minimalist album, a truly epic track. What 1/1 does is succeed without the film to not only be interesting music but also to remind listeners of the loss for music that Liars' disbandment represents. There isn't enough here for a classic record; not nearly enough to compare to the scope and scale of They Threw Us All In A Trench... or the majesty of Drum's Not Dead. Instead, this record serves as a tasty morsel. A perfect final bite of a band who will never again record together. If it's even possible to go out on a good note, it can't be understated that 1/1 has perfect pitch. 

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