For anyone who thinks of lo-fi rock as little more than uninspired garage recordings, Royal Forest has something to say. Their self-titled EP follows the standard set by both of their previous works, offering albeit a small selection of tunes comprised of droning rhythms tainted with bass-heavy gain and diverse keyboard riffs ranging from bell-like piano to 70s-style organ, all carefully layered over typically muddled vocals. But more than cleaning up the gain and lathering on the guitars, Royal Forest
reminds us both dynamically and stylistically that lo-fi has more to it than the sounds emanating from a dingy, clichd basement.
One of the most effective tools in Royal's arsenal is their use of conversation within the leads. Whether the track is driven by keys or guitars, there are always more than one of each, sometimes talking to each other one at a time and other times evoking the image of a crowded room where everyone is talking at the same time and the very uniqueness of the white noise is far more important than what anyone is saying.
Taking things a step further, most of the tracks on Royal
syncopate this delicate style of instrumentation with meaty, metallic percussion. The result is a rare one in the lo-fi world where constant droning noise tends to dominate the genre. Royal Forest, instead, creates a strangely pleasant effect of starting and stopping, the instruments regularly breaking from their conversation to let the percussion have a chance to say something before being interrupted by sloppily precise riffs.
The exception &mdash perhaps even to the band's credit &mdash is the untitled track that concludes the EP. One of the longest of the album's five tunes, this track is slow, steady, and bears no resemblance to noise rock at all, instead sounding like something from the arsenal of American Analog Set. Gently weaning us from all that's gone on for the first twenty minutes, "(Untitled)" serves as the perfect closing to this focused, to-the-point EP.-josh cacopardo
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MP3: "Anagrams" (Royal Forest EP)
Royal Forest on Myspace