One Second Bridge
One Second Bridge
ne Second Bridge’s debut record starts with the sort of fluttering guitar that is rapidly becoming a cliché in modern ambient music. It’s a beautiful sound, but one that Klimek has made his career on—and one that should no longer evoke wonder among anyone who spends time listening to the genre on a regular basis. Thankfully, a little over a minute into the track, the music shudders under its own weight and begins to convulse and quake for the rest of its length—seemingly falling apart at the seams.
It’s this sort of dislocation that colors the first-half of One Second Bridge debut record. Call it hauntology. “Everywhere,” for instance, takes the familiar elements of shoegaze and strips them, leaving the dry husk of the signified. Guitars circle around, looking for their accompaniment, but only find shards of feedback, a dampened fleck of hip-hop, and a voice briefly appearing to tell us that it’s “everywhere.” The theme continues on the aptly titled “The Ghost”: the same guitar, still struggling to find its proper mate, the moaning voice, the drums dissolving once they’ve hit the imagined snare. The early songs on One Second Bridge are desiccated—forms not yet attained, forms that never quite cohere into what they should eventually be.
“Keep on Falling” breaks the spell. It’s a slightly tinted, but relatively straight-ahead, rework of classic shoegaze. The guitar immediately begins to quaver around the main melody, while the drum sits in the back passively allowing for the improvisation that goes on in front of it. It’s the group’s most fully-formed effort, its longest, and most boring. Guitar squall middle section excepted, it’s the same sort of track as “Everywhere” or “The Ghost,” without any of the mystery or allure.
It’s followed up by similar exercises in mundanity. “Fifth Season” is sub-Slowdive drum machine hum—assured, confident, and lifeless—while “Sucio Cielo Azul” sounds far too much like Vangelis for its own good. “Alt Ending” goes some way towards rectifying the middling second-half, but it’s too little, too late.
Front-loading a debut record is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s to be expected. Every band has an idea—a reason for being. It seemed like, from the first-half of One Second Bridge that the group was treading in fertile ground, taking shoegaze outside of its normally trod path. But by record’s end, you end up with what you expect—with cliché. And in a genre rife with it, why bother?