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Strobosphere
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  • Apparently it's still the 1990s inside the minds of Alister Parker and Brent McLachlan, and that's not at all a bad thing. Guitarist Parker and percussionist McLachlan have taken Bailterspace back to the recording studio for the first time since the turn of the century with their 2012 album Strobosphere, and sonically it pretty much picks up where the group left off in 1999 -- Parker still fashions a massive wall of guitar noise that's rough and tuneful at the same time, McLachlan still urges the songs along with his simple but implacable drumming, and the sound and approach of this material recalls those heady days when Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and My Bloody Valentine were joyously proving that the electric guitar wasn't dead after all. If that suggests this is an exercise in indie rock nostalgia, a quick listen to Strobosphere confirms that's not the case; Bailterspace are still working within the same musical framework that they established in the late '80s, but the music sounds and feels as powerful and engaging as ever, and Parker's many layers of thick, scratchy guitar sounds fit together with the firm snap of a jigsaw puzzle and a melodic strength that's elegant but powerfully strong. The songs on Strobosphere sometimes seem like frameworks more than fully formed melodic entities, but it's Parker's guitars that put muscle on the bones, and from the sounds of this he's been hitting the gym regularly in recent years. The performances sound fresh and alive, with enough scrap and spontaneity to suggest the dynamics of a live performance (as do the sudden fade-outs on several tracks), though everything here is purposeful and well focused. Strobosphere isn't a comeback for Bailterspace, it's a continuation, and confirms one of the great guitar bands of its day hasn't given up on the mission of discovering how much wonder can be summoned from a few fuzzy chords. ~ Mark Deming
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