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Discs: Adebisi Shank, “This Is the Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank”


Adebisi Shank

This Is the Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank

[Sargant House]

3.5 stars

The cover of the third album from this trio of Irish musical polymaths depicts a massive weight lifter in clenched pose, his head replaced by a huge light bulb that is just about to explode.

This is absolutely fitting album art. When you’re listening to “This Is the Third Album....” your head is quite likely to feel like that light bulb. “Epic” does not even begin to cover the scope of this thing.

Commonly referred to as a “math rock” outfit, Adebisi Shank might just as well be tossed beneath the progressive umbrella, for the music conjured by these three young men – guitarist Larry Kaye, bassist Vincent McCreith and drummer Michael Roe who met as teens in Wexford, Ireland, and became a band in 2006 – is dizzyingly complex, unflinchingly ambitious, and a hybrid of more styles, subgenres, and idiomatic wrinkles than can be accurately enumerated. The trio might be tipping the hat to math rock complexity at one moment, than going for a hyper-blast assault the next, before devolving for a temporary stay in the land of their own personalized take on EDM. Mind you, all of this often takes place within a 2-minute time frame. Wearing your seat belt is strongly recommended.

Ostensibly an album’s worth of instrumentals, “Third” also finds the band employing sampled and heavily effected vocals, invariably used as colors in the palate, not as the core of the song. There are hooks in tunes like “Mazel Tov” and “World in Harmony,” to be sure, but since Adebisi Shank demands that we follow them down the rabbit hole into their own little world of fun-house mirrors, nothing is where you thought you left it, and everything comes at you at once.

The effect can be overwhelming, but these lads are not here simply to stun and then move on. There is, in fact, a narrative – albeit one sans words – going on here, and a sense of unfolding in each song that evolves into a tale of heroic scope when the listener takes in the whole album in consecutive order.

It’s a face-melter, make no mistake, but fans of progressive alternative acts like Battles, or envelope-pushing progenitors of the form like Apollo 440, will not find this volatile urchin of an album difficult to embrace. Make the effort. It’s worth it, I assure you. Too often these days, it seems that youth is being wasted on the young, at least in the world of popular music, where a sort of conservative complacency reigns. Adebisi Shank reminds us that, to paraphrase an Eddie Vedder lyric, much that is sacred can come from youth.

- Jeff Miers

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