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Metronome The City - Electric Elements Exposed (MTC)

27 October 2008

METRONOME THE CITY is a rare find: a band able to maintain a unified sound whilst jumping between disparate genres and tempos without missing a beat. The intricate stylings of this New Orleans-based group were first brought to my attention by a friend who caught one of their hometown shows last month. With rhythmic dexterity and heavily textured soundscapes that invoke Primus, Fugazi, Medeski Martin & Wood and a host of other greats, I took an interest myself after hearing the opening strains of Metronome’s self-released full-length, Electric Elements Exposed.

The album begins with “A Carefully Prepared Leg of a Dead Frog Twitches When Stimulated Electrically,” a slinky, reverb-inflected song driven by the lonely bleats of a single horn. It isn’t nearly as coldly clinical as the title might suggest – with an aural replication of nighttime nature straight from the swamp, you can hear the crickets, the crawling things, as they buzz and chatter low and syncopated in the background. Here is where the bayou shows through: those New Orleans roots are hard to hide.

Then things change abruptly, and Metronome’s sonic syncretism hits you with the following track, “Rotating Electrostatic Generator.” It’s far more cacophonic and unhinged, merging dark indie prog jams with Nintendo-core straight outta King Koopa’s castle. Sounds somewhat follow suit for “Non-Coincidental Peak Load,” where Trans Am and Brainiac collide in a frenetic kinetic breakdown before we are once again introduced to another side of Metronome on “Transmission Stabilization,” which rocks a dub groove and punchy fuzzy guitars that float by in a distorted smoky haze.

Although these sonic shifts may seem extreme, when listening to the album it all sounds quite effortless and natural. This is instrumental rock ‘n’ roll at its best – it needs to be this inventive to keep my attention – and Metronome The City does quite well. The track titles may be a bit wacky, but that matters little when the musicianship is this solid. (And, in their favor, they do have a delightful little 10” for sale which comes in pink vinyl.) For fans of quirky indie pop, prog rock, jazz excursions and psychedelic explorations, Metronome does the trick. You’ve got atmospherics and adventure, intellect and emotion here, and it’s tough to shake.