A Place to Bury Strangers is a Brooklyn-based noise-rock trio. Their sound is influenced by shoegaze, post-punk, goth, and wall-of-sound indie rock. They’ve released three proper albums, including a new one last month. The first two albums were met with almost unanimous high praise. The new album, which is unfortunately called Worship, was met with universal “meh”.
Often cited as “the loudest band in New York” (which would place them high in the running for loudest world-wide), they’re lauded as much for their architecture of sound as they are for their decibel levels. This isn’t simply turning it up to eleven. There’s a lot of science and technical wizardry in their sound, apart from the fact that they’re turned up to eleven. Frontman Oliver Ackermann designs and produces hand-made effects pedals. Although most of his pedals are designed with unhealthy noise levels in mind, not all of his customers play in noisy bands. His company, Death By Audio has custom-built pedals for U2 and Wilco, among other very famous bands. Let’s be real, though. Look at some of the names of the stock pedals. Total Sonic Annihilation. Apocalypse. There’s no hiding the fact that these pedals are meant to do one thing: Make your ears bleed.
The band’s first album, which was self-titled, is really nothing more than a collection of previously released EPs. It was released as a limited run CD, and it sold out immediately. It was repressed three times on limited-run vinyl, and each pressing sold out very quickly. It’s currently out of print again, but copies aren’t that hard to come by.
Today’s song comes from the first record. The second song on the album has a My Bloody Valentine sound. Especially the first ten or so seconds, which remind me a lot of “Feed Me With Your Kiss”. However, most of the rest of the album reminds me of more gothy stuff like Love & Rockets and The Cure. Specifically, of The Cure’s 1982 gothic masterpiece Pornography. Today’s song sounds a hell of a lot like “The Hanging Garden”. And that’s just fine with me.
Listen for yourself.
“She Dies” by A Place to Bury Strangers
In the first 15 seconds, I love the flange-y bass and the drum beat. Although the bass line in “The Hanging Garden” isn’t flange-y like that, it’s still an awful lot alike. At 1:55, it makes a bit of a turn, then at 2:23, it gets crazily, insanely loud. At the same time, though, that drum pattern and bass sound keeps on with that “Hanging Garden” sound. It’s still there, under a ridiculous wall of sound.
I was late arriving to the A Place to Bury Strangers boat. I remember I had a coworker who was always going on about them ever since their first record came out, but I didn’t bother to check them out until about 18 months ago, when one of my Music Geek (viva la Geek!) friends insisted that I check them out. I love the first record, and today’s song is my favorite song from it. My impression of the new album is pretty much that of the majority of music critics. Meh.
Sure, there are vocals, and while I don’t mean to sound dismissive, nobody listens to APTBS because they’re interested in the poetry of the lyrics. It’s all about the sonic experience. To be completely honest, I’ve never listened to today’s song (or any APTBS song, for that matter) at high volume. However, I know that it’s meant to be listened that way. So turn it up and wear your earplugs. Safety first, kids!