ABR’s Assemblage Session 1
ontained within the teensy settlement of South Charleston, W.Va., indie hybrid label Abandon Building latest and only compilation record, Assemblage, is its third release. You may only recognize one or two of the 18 participating artists (if that), but don’t let that dissuade you from allowing the album to grace your hearing apparatuses. The bulk of these artists are most likely “unsigned,” as they say. That’s not to say they aren’t active in their respective music scenes, but their discographies may merely consist of a few self-released items, compilation entries and a token 7-inch (if they’re lucky). The obvious exceptions to this rule would be Sheveks Masada (aka Beneath Autumn Sky), who has had solo work peddled by Hefty, and Adventure Time (aka Daedelus and Frosty), who maintain a release schedule on Plug Research.
After examining the product, I can confirm it’s certainly not the prettiest piece of packaging I’ve ever held. The cover and choice of font seem a bit crudely assembled, but I’ve never been one to dwell on such things. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, damn it. So let’s see about the inside of the album in question. The opener, Piana’s “Befor Night,” is promising. With its ambient purr, snappy percussion, and mouse-like female vocals, it could easily be mistaken for early Múm. It may just find you rejoicing and exclaiming, “Bravo, Kristín finally dropped an octave!”
Next up, we have “Sorry Grandfather” by Sheveks, a slightly second-rate but enjoyable glitch-hop joint stylistically on par with Machine Drum or Push Button Objects. The disc continues in this vein with Set in Sand’s indie rap Anticon homage “What Gives Life.” The upbeat, pastoral IDM action of Color Cassette’s “Here We Go Again” then ensues, tailoring acoustic guitar strums to custom-fit, driving synth melodies, and drilling percussion. The Winks’ two-minute ditty “Boxes” features male and female vocal phrases fixed atop a lo-fi jam session, sounding something like The Aislers Set doing lazy karaoke over a Caribou outtake.
Generally, Assemblage continues in this manner; most songs fall into either the abstract hip-hop, vocal indie-electronic or horn-rimmed IDM categories, all of which are united by the perpetual strum-n-glitch ideology. The track list tends to be a relay race of sorts between these subgenres. The label’s eclectic nature would easily appeal to fans of Mush or Morr, as the participating artists tend to be stuck between two or more musical realms at once. At times, you may even notice a shift in genre in the middle of a song (i.e., quiet and pretty singing one moment, Bohemian-styled rapping the next).
While none of the songs are particularly original, memorable, or expertly produced, they’re all rather good. There are officially no stinkers present on Assemblage. The variety of tracks keeps things interesting and well-paced while maintaining a stable theme. The relative short song lengths will likely keep the more impatient brand of listener more content than the average comp. Through and through, Assemblage is a merry listen and shows a lot of promise for this newly hatched small-town imprint.