REVIEW: No Thee No Ess — Dimmer Switch (LP)
The Welsh duo of Paul Battenbough, and Andy Fung, collectively known as No Thee No Ess, are set to drop their LP, later this month. Both have an extensive musical background, and bring a shared love of 60’s psychadelia, and assorted influences from that period, to the fold. Dimmer Switch is about as creatively adventurous as it gets, channeling things such as The Beach Boys and Barrett era, Pink Floyd. It may seem like something of a ploy, to pen a psychedelic record in the 21st century, but what’s old is often new. To NTNE’s credit, they fully commit themselves to the material, and the results are often splendid.
The atmospheric and ambient sounding, “Kaleidoscopic,” opens the record. Initially, it has an almost ominous overtone, but quickly shifts into something more innocuous sounding. Like much of Dimmer Switch, it has something of a languid quality to it. This song could actually elicit some comparisons to Kid A era Radiohead. The ironically titled “Chorus,” follows it, though it doesn’t actually have one. For that matter, this sophomore track seems to lack much of a structure. It actually sounds like more of an extended jam that the band liked the texture of, so they found a place for it.
“The Very Best Thing About Summer,” captures the very best things about post psychedelic rock. It sounds like a warm Sunday afternoon, feels, and the band shows a real grasp of the era’s subtleties. “Wild Prairie” is the album closer, and is one of the most inspired efforts on the entire album, particularly from a musical standpoint. It somewhat resembles what a taurine fueled collaboration between The Flaming Lips and Spiritualized would sound like. “Wild Prairie,” features some of the most impressive guitar, bass and organ work on all of Dimmer Switch.
“Jazz Hands” is even more frantically paced than the aforementioned, and comes across like a musical paroxysm of sorts. With albums like Dimmer Switch, it can difficult to identify whether interspersed fragments of song, like “Jazz Hands,” are essential to the overall tone and narrative of the record. The beauty of this type of work, that could in some ways qualify as being esoteric, is that it requires dissection as opposed to something more casual, like perception. Dimmer Switch benefits from its extremes, for simply being courageous enough to not feel overly compelled to make sense. We can only hope that this particular brand of abstract thinking can become a trend in music, again.
All things considered, Dimmer Switch hits more often than it misses. While there are moments of uncertainty, No Thee No Ess seem to have accomplished exactly what they set out to do. Of course, with a record like this, the band may have set out to do absolutely nothing. Dimmer Switch could very likely be nothing more than an intellectual and creative detox. Whatever the case, we have on our hands one of the finer examples of musical free will, in some time.