A Place To Bury Strangers release See Through You today on Dedstrange, a label of their own devising. Fans all over the globe know Oliver Ackermann always brings surprises. The singer and guitarist of New York City’s APTBShas been delighting and astonishing his audience for close to two decades, combining post-punk, noise-rock, shoegaze, psychedelia, and avant-garde music in startling and unexpected ways. As the founder of Death By Audio, creator of signal-scrambling stompboxes and visionary instrument effects, he’s exported that excitement and invention to other artists who plug into his gear and blow minds.
Live, A Place To Bury Strangers are nothing short of astounding; a shamanistic experience that bathes listeners in glorious sound, crazed left turns, transcendent vibrations, real-time experiments, brilliant breakthroughs. And just as many of his peers in the New York City underground seem to be slowing down, Ackermann’s creativity is accelerating. He’s launched his own label – Dedstrange – dedicated to advancing the work of sonic renegades worldwide. He’s also refreshed the group’s line-up, adding Ceremony East Coast’s John Fedowitz on bass and Sandra Fedowitz on drums. Ackermann and John Fedowitz are childhood friends who played together in the legendary Skywave, and the band has never sounded more current, more courageous, or more accessible.
2021’s Hologram EP was the first release from the new line-up – and the first on Dedstrange – and the reaction was ecstatic, with Pitchfork saying that Ackermann had “transcended his gearhead tendencies, gracefully navigating fuzz and feedback loops as well as melodies and hooks”. And now See Through You pushes things even further.
Opening with ‘Nice of You to be There for Me’ there are many of the expected elements, but a different, more upbeat feel is present. The kinetic beat grabs hold instantly, and the intense guitar interplay ensures your attention isn’t lost for a second. ‘I’m Hurt’’s jarring electronic noise and haunting vocal effect make for an intriguing juxtaposition whilst ‘Let’s See Each Other’ has a bass hook so strong that its impossible not to be captivated and the dreamscape created as the track descends into noise is a thing of beauty. ‘So Low’ is pure APTBS, with competing removed guitar sounds, dual vocals and a feeling of pervading dissonance; it refers back to their early work and is no less brilliant. ‘Dragged in a Hole’ and ‘Ringing Bells’ make an interesting pair, the first stunted and almost muted, the second loud and brash from the ground up.
‘I Disappear (When You’re Near)’ has so much going on it requires listening with intent to appreciate its complexity, with the end being particularly enthralling with its unusually melodic intonation. ‘Anyone But You’ is a complete departure, with a bouncing melody and noise infused backdrop. ‘My Head is Bleeding’ could be a short version of a space rock opera, but delivered in true APTBS style; succinct and packing a punch. ‘Broken’ leaves you breathless with its relentless, fluid energy and ‘Hold on Tight’ does not allow they grip they have on the listener to let up, even for a second, despite the slight reduction in tempo (appropriately named right?!). ‘I Don’t Know How You Do It’ and ‘Love Reaches Out’ conclude the album in fine style, bringing the chaos to heel and producing tracks akin to ballads, but with APTBS twist; they ensure that the listener is left wanting more.
While other bands are scrambling around wondering if they have emerged from a global pandemic unscathed, APTBS are firing on all cylinders. These purveyors of noise rock will not be bested and in See Through You they have shown that they are stronger than ever.