Stateless
The Bloodstream EP
2005
B-



an understated piano chime, corrupted and cracked, makes you eject the CD, flip it over, check for scratches on the mercury underside like the first time you heard Loveless and thought it had been microwaved or was playing at the wrong speed or with a faulty laser or something. No scratches, so you put it back in the tray and press *close* and set the disc spinning again, at 5,000rpm or thereabouts. And the piano is still corrupted but this time you let it spin, because it’s obviously meant to sound that way.

Stateless released a largely-ignored debut single on Sony/BMG last year which was far too indebted to Coldplay to make it worth paying attention to, and which they’re probably vaguely embarrassed of now. 12 months and one label-change later and they make their second foray into our record shops with greater freedom of movement and thought, and this, The Bloodstream EP, is the CD that sits in those very shops, the result of… something.

Think Radiohead, think Kate Bush, think Warp Records, think UNKLE and Jeff Buckley’s overly-revered tonsils. Add them together. Mention “fusing pop, hip hop and electronica” in the press release. Make no mistake that The Bloodstream EP is the product of a major record label’s “esoteric” little brother, that just as much thought has gone into the marketing of this as X & Y (if not more—“it doesn’t need marketing, right, it’s Coldplay, everyone loves them, just put it on the shelves; wait, who’s this James Blunt guy, where’s he come from?!”), that they were signed not just because some A&R guy really liked them but because someone else thought “we can nail a demographic here.”

That opening song with the corrupted piano is called “Bloodstream,” and the chorus is about inhaling someone. It has an appealing but obvious drum pattern, an array of sound, synthetic, and organic, used to fill space. It is pretty, imagist, and modern. The next track is the comparatively upbeat “Exit,” which starts more electronically, works to higher emotional peaks, is laden with strings. “Inscape” is third, crawls slowly and delicately across six minutes, yet more piano, guitar, drums, keys, electronics, impassioned yet distant singing. “Blue Trace” is fourth. It is hushed, almost sinister, to start with.

“Blue Trace” climaxes at three and a half minutes. It canters gallops… no, explodes into fury, not quite unexpectedly, the noise ratcheted up a notch, the drums faster, and for once a band, slight and sensitive with an imagination, seem as though they can take past that quiet stillness and humility and into the blast of war. There’s a trumpet and it honks beneath the surface and it has a visceral affect on me, makes me play it again. It’s one of my favourite moments of music yet this year. I am hoping that Stateless, in recording an album, view this moment as the key to their aesthetic, and not so much the quiet bits that sound like Keane remixed.


Reviewed by: Nick Southall
Reviewed on: 2005-08-11
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