Album: Call the Time Eternity
Blurb: The darker and more considerate tones of Tweaker’s latest are matched by his usual flair for noisy yet melodic arrangements.
Chris Vrenna’s return under the Tweaker moniker finds him in a place not too distant from where 2.A.M. Wakeup Call ceased to be in 2004. His third venture into this melancholic soundscape doesn’t bear the marks of a long gestating effort that aimlessly strives for a new identity, but instead settles for similar, gently shifting moods of dreamy realities and very earthly bitterness. The listener’s submersion into Tweaker’s deliberate, pacing rhythms indeed seems effortless and the feeling of comfortable familiarity with his weighty compositions is not conditioned by the experience of previous albums.
Like both preceding releases, the bulk of the album consists of atmospheric, instrumental pieces punctuated by several collaborations on which the vocals arrange the somewhat free flowing structures into catchy, conventional songs. The mood of those speechless arrangements, brief samples aside, sways between mysterious, breaking up glitches as on “Hoarding Granules” and menacing ambient like on “Wasted Time.” There is generally less accidental clashes between the sounds than on The Attraction to All Things Uncertain and most tracks are organized similarly, with a lengthy intensifying exposition that leads into a powerful and layered second half that assaults the listener with the whole extent of Tweaker’s musical prowess.
Opening “Ponygrinder” is a fitting example of this method, as well as the equally accomplished “Areas of the Brain,” whihc intertwines punchy percussion and jittery guitars and fades into an unsettling mélange of distortion and vocals. Whether it’s because of the recognizable progression of tracks or the unique texture of beats and instruments, Call the Time Eternity never permutes the recognizable tropes of Tweaker’s style and even the NIN-esque quality of the noisy “This is Ridiculous” seems to reaffirm Vrenna’s trademark approach. “A Bit Longer than Usual” in some ways takes the listener all the way back to 2 A.M. Wakeup Call with an exceptionally evocative blend of atmospheric electronica and dynamic pace. A standout track comes in the shape of “Nothing at All,” which is enriched by the mesmerizing presence of Jessicka Addams. The former singer of Jack Off Jill lends the already supreme composition undeniable gravitas. The chorus, sung sweetly and melodically, contains the dramatic ingredient that transforms the vague tones of the album into a palpable and potent emotional package. The song is instantly memorable and one highlight of Call the Time Eternity that comprehensively embodies the range of its accomplishments. Less spectacular, even if equally intense, is “Grounded” on which Collide’s kaRIN channels a spectrum of gothic sensibilities resulting in a rich ballad with a dangerously unpredictable musical undercurrent. If there’s something absent from Tweaker’s latest, it would be the equivalent of potent masculine voices that helped define 2 A.M. Albeit present on closing “Fine” and scattered sparingly throughout the album, the absence of harsh, dominating male vocals differentiates this release and remains sorely missed given the overall, darker tone of Call the Time Eternity, especially when juxtaposed with some of the twitchy material from The Attraction To All Things Uncertain.
Listening to Tweaker’s new album is at times filled with nostalgia, as if the experience was deeply intimate. Indeed, the music of Chris Vrenna does not evolve radically beyond the paradigm of previous records, as though he himself was expressing something deeply personal through music on Call the Time Eternity, which of course doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Even still, the very fact that his newest opus so potently evokes this feeling stands as valid proof of its emotional value and, as such, in an industry filled with superficial pleasures, the overall value of the album.
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Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)