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Sunday, November 27, 2005

SOUND team - Work, 2005

"Wouldn't you know it's another perfect score," croons SOUND team's Matt Oliver in the first words to their major-label debut EP Work. The song is "The Fastest Man Alive", and the swirling Moog, Jordan John's powerful drumwork, and the multi-layered sheets of sound that inhabit the intro track to the EP are equally as reflective of SOUND team's style as the confidence those beginning lyrics betray.

As "Fastest" ends on one powerfully-held note, the second track, "It's Obvious What's Happening Here", an instrumental track, seamlessly begins. This song, not unlike most of the other songs on this release, was put out on other demos and EPs previous to it. SOUND team released Marathon in 2004, a 12" limited-release sold only at shows during their tour and in their native Austin. Yes, a six-song tape-only recording was released earlier in 2004, where "Obvious" was found originally.

"Orange Bird" is next, and if it sounds a little different from the other songs on the album so far, that's because it's reminiscent of SOUND team's work several years ago--more guitar-driven, great pop sensibility, and very straight-forward. Despite the song being originally written and recorded in 2002, it's easy to see why the Capitol record executives and the band themselves would want the track on a disc that is meant to serve as an introduction to the band. Not only is "Orange Bird" a song that has the ability to pry out at least a toe-tap and at best a full-body dance freak out (complete with head-spin and fist pump), it embodies at least one of the band's greatest loves: the color orange.

A few years ago, the group purchased an old record-processing plant in East Austin. The place was filled with grime and junk, but with a lot of elbow grease and a few hard-earned dollars, they turned it into a fully-functioning analog recording studio they named Big Orange, where they recorded Yes, Marathon, Work, various other bands, and their LP, which is due to be released in 2006.

"In the Dark No One Can Hear You Sweat" is introduced with crashes of cymbals and keyboards and transforms into a syncopated guitar progression, with a haunting Moog melody. It transforms again when Oliver speaks: "I'm knocking at your front door window/baby can I come upstairs?" A song whose intro could well have been the soundtrack to a 1950s space invasion/slasher hybrid is actually about the ambiguities of love.

The last song, "Can't Turn Away" is the second track from that little orange tape, Yes, that Bill Baird, bass player and co-founder of the band (with Matt Oliver) transmogrified from sounds and images in his mind into music that can accurately be described as what a calculus problem would sound like if it were recorded.

What amazes me about SOUND team, this EP not withstanding, is that people who hear them for the first time are blown away. It's probably clear by now that I think this band has a great deal to offer, so that may not seem surprising. But the missing piece of the puzzle becomes apparent when I think about how truly original SOUND team's recordings are--it usually takes the average person at least a few listens to come around to something unlike other things they've heard before.

Give this EP a listen, there's only a few more months until their album comes out, and you won't be able to say that you heard them before they got big.

You can buy Work here. SOUND team's website is here.


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