Album review: Hi Red Center, "Assemble" 

Picture, if you will, a one-man band trippingly marching down the street, lurching and staggering forward, skipping for a step or two, then falling down entirely (bells and drums flying everywhere), finally sprinting towards the finish. Such is the figure suggested by Brooklyn instrumental rock quartet Hi Red Center, a band with a clean, focused, bright and melodic sound that, through complex and unpredictable arrangements, manages to stay on the same step and keep things light and playful.

Reminiscent of Deerhoof (sharing high-pitched vocals but a little more consonant) and anything in the Chicago post-rock school (that same open, reverberant, bell-like sound), Hi Red Center has all the traditional rock band elements, but they sound almost randomly arranged, almost a serialist rock song. The album opens with the most invigorating, challenging and exhausting tracks - none of the melodies or instrumentation is difficult in and of itself, but the arrangement makes for what is both an original as well as difficult-to-handle listen. Things settle down by the second half of the album, when a lullaby or Latin-inflected song sticks to the same chorus or tempo for the whole tune.

"Chicken Gorlet" is probably the strangest track, on which sing-song cooking instructions are issued over twitching electronics, heavy riffs and dissonant bells, with a closing chorus of "savory satisfaction" yelled over heavy riffs.

It's accomplished, sophisticated and light-hearted post-rock that manages a herky-jerky groove through all the changes.

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Scott Shoger

Scott Shoger

Scott Shoger staggered up to NUVO's door one summer afternoon, a little drunk, poor and crazy-haired, muttering about future Mayor Ballard. He was taken in, hosed down, given NUVO-emblazoned clothes to wear and allowed to work in exchange for food and bylines. Refusing to leave the premises, he was hired on as... more

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