Taking Trips EP
(Prison Art Tapes; 2011)
By Kaylen Hann | 18 April 2012
Like three trailing dots hanging at the end of a band’s sentence (and changing their tone entirely), Each Other is the paired-down version of Halifax’s lamentably now-defunct, experimental pop—and in many ways Women-esque band—Long Long Long. While Women’s permanently broken-up status is worth bowing your head for, my enthusiasm at the turn Long Long Long’s breakup has taken is palpable as all fuck. Having tucked in to make an uninhibited, surf-, psych-, and pop-ish EP, Brad Loughead and Mike Wright then literally packed up, relocated to Montreal, and, well, started road-tripping. Permeating Taking Trips, then, is that effortless haze of a last day in a town, and the unbearable weightlessness of the future as it suddenly stretches out into ellipses.
Which means: everything on Each Other’s Taking Trips evaporates. As unhinged as the songs could be in Long Long Long’s catalog, here Loughead and Wright play with an even less structured aesthetic, all odd-keyed and open air, songs diffusing into psychedelic vapours, woozy smudges of unintelligible, layered lyrics, and weak-kneed guitars—which are barely, if at all discernible as, “surf.” Songs disperse in trails of distortion so listenable but so unpredictable in their erratic ruptures (and they rupture frequently), they play out with a really strange and beautiful incongruity.
It’s hard to follow what element leads these songs so consistently through the EP…unless that element is simply curiosity itself. In Long Long Long, lyrical melody shouldered a lot of the burden to keep things cogent, but, while the pitch and tone here carry that familiar, metallic taste of nasal vocals—seeping from the music like a nosebleed—the words themselves form behind a smokescreen that maintains its impenetrability ten, even fifteen listens in. Though, in songs like “She Stole Second,” where the bass is the instrument with the most focus and the closest the album has to bonework, it isn’t exactly the bass toeing the line either. Instead, throbbing sporadically, the bass toils, portrayed in such clarity it reveals just how masterful the band’s ease with obfuscation actually is. But even the bass gives up the ghost—or, more specifically, relinquishes to the ghostly cry of amps layering up like whale calls.
So we’re still left with only curiosity to pace and weather this album’s tendency to sprawl. Actually, that the through-line isn’t made of guitars is what helps distinguish Each Other from Women. Like with the latter, it’s not so much that there are guitars and there are vocals on these songs, it’s that these songs seem to be an infinite number of each operating in mysterious, impossible ways. But, while Women’s statuesque dialogues pull the songs beginning to end, Loughead and Wright’s guitars don’t hold such an accessible conversation with their reticulations; far less sunk in precision, they frequently trail away, drop off, implode with surprising turns of rhythm, or get bitten off by a mouthful of crooked-teeth percussion. At their most talkative, in “Goosing Statues,” the guitars are more interested in assuming the drum’s job as a pulse than in making noise, which the cymbals-heavy percussion is glad to rectify.
Inevitably, it is a scattershot heartbeat that pumps through Taking Trips, from the aimless pop drone of jangling, “Looking Lapsed” to the odd tropical bounce of shaker-dashed “Freak Heat.” Despite all the unanticipated directions and the infinite possibilities the album feels out, it does have its weighted questions and its moments of gravity. “Odd Body of Water,” a vacant stare of a track, seems to echo Phil Elverum’s sentiments in the Microphones’ “I’m an Iceberg In a Mountain”: “The only watery body / I’ve ever known’s my own.” It susses out and considers its own form, but lyrically it bears a more open and less dour curiosity: “I think about growing the earth corroding, the sky glowing and my body decomposing. When I free my mind I see no sign of fear or doubt.” Unexpectedly anomalous for an album tagged “pop,” Taking Trips is a disorienting, day-drunk miasma of experimental and deeply enjoyable sound, a dissonant field of bliss-inducing haze that loosely orbits a strong but completely sporadic pulse. And that pulse, that enticing mood, is the structure-less-ness of the open road.
One time not too long ago, in a sunny park, Dom gave me this pot cookie before getting on a train. This album, in many ways, is exactly like that. From the get-go, they propose, “Let’s get high,” and the the EP’s atmosphere sounds like the perfect day for that. (I mean, I just call them “days.”) Like a last, memorable session of getting baked in the sun the afternoon before Loughead and Wright shove off. And with only 7-inch limited production vinyl “Traces to Nowhere/Sit Still” released on another Brooklyn-based label (Crikey) to go on, there’s no clear notion of what Montreal’s going to mean for Each Other. Or what Each Other is going to mean for itself, really. Hopefully it means something. Anything…? Because that trailing “anything,” whatever it means right this moment, is pretty fantastic.