Frantic Bleep - _The Sense Apparatus_
(The End / Earache, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
I was quite impressed by Frantic Bleep's inventive _Fluctuadmission_ demo when I reviewed it a couple of years ago, but I was nonetheless surprised to find their debut album released by Earache in Europe and The End in the rest of the world. First of all, don't let the name Frantic Bleep mislead you into thinking this is some sort of lightning paced electronic music or whatever. Frantic Bleep's music is actually firmly rooted in metal; but it is also a thoroughly eclectic mix of styles and influences from a vast array of sources, many of them well outside of metal. The closest comparison can be drawn to a slower, less blackened version of Arcturus on some occasions. Some of the vocals bring to mind Ulver, Borknagar or Alice in Chains just as easily. In truth, all these comparisons are unfair to the spirit of Frantic Bleep: they reflect only fleeting moments in the album where a passing shadow briefly reminds you of something else.

There is a large variety of approaches on all counts to be found throughout _The Sense Apparatus_ if you listen closely. Vocals range from several singing styles to occasional rasps and female backing vox (courtesy of Madder Mortem's Agnete Kirkevaag, no less; bandmates Kjetil Fosseid and Daniel Solheim also make appearances). Synths seamlessly enter and leave the mix in various forms. The guitar work can just as easily show a markedly progressive slant as revert back to comparatively straightforward metal riffing. Contrary to other avantgarde acts however, this isn't done in hyperspeed or focused on showing everyone just how great the band members' instrumental and compositional skill really is. These Norwegians take their time with each set of musical elements, using them in a consistent manner rather than hastily blazing through them. Furthermore, this isn't a jumble of ultimately soulless progressive bits and pieces; tracks like "...But a Memory" and "Mausolos" actually have considerable emotional content, even if the same does not apply to other parts of the album. The whole thing is helped by an appropriately clear, strong production.

A common problem with albums that rely heavily on progressive and avantgarde elements is that after several spins you're left with little to remember each song by other than some quirky twist or other. _The Sense Apparatus_ is neither a huge success nor a rotund failure in this respect. The band clearly has other concerns beyond the sheer catchiness of their music, which is by no means inherently a bad thing; but because they actually explore their ideas enough before moving on, most of the songs become pleasantly recognizable after a while. While not an intensely gripping album throughout, _The Sense Apparatus_ does stimulate the listener more than your average metal album. It also treads an interesting path of its own instead of just going with the flow, which is always very commendable. I shall be looking forward to Frantic Bleep's next effort.


(article published 26/4/2005)

4/28/2003 P Azevedo 4 Frantic Bleep - Fluctuadmission
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