Tracer AMC – Flux & Form – BBC ATL Review

BBC Across The Line Website, Stuart Bailie

It’s all about the algebra, baby. It’s about crisp, tightly defined guitar phrases. It’s about the lovely curve of an instrumental track, surging and then falling away, as directed. It’s about the physics of electrical pick-ups, foot pedals, fingers and faders. And ultimately, it’s about the transcendence that happens when all of these factors meet in some wonderful accord, when the music lifts you to some sublime joint where fashion, pretension and the debilitating factors of Ulster rock are all rendered meaningless.

Tracer AMC have some of these moments on their new record. There’s one rather great epiphany that starts around 2:30 on the title track. There’s another on “Catherine Holly” which starts in a rather fussy, self-conscious fashion, and then it turns immense after the seven minute mark and never looks back.

Alex, Jonny, Michael and Keith played some top shows in 2003, increasingly bold and loud. Before that, they seemed to be weighed down by the sum of their influences, by the difficulty of making the idea work in a series of pokey, ill-prepared venues. So here’s the fine proof of it; recorded well, smartly designed, no excuses or apologies strapped to the side.

‘Blue Thread’ gets all chamber music on yo’ ass. The violin makes wise, swirling noises and makes you think of John Cale on the sweeter Velvets tunes. There’s a deal of spatial folk-jazz on ‘Sleep Trick’ which recalls the work of David Pajo during his Papa M phase. And you can be sure that Tracer AMC, with their ocean of left-field fancies, are dabbling in ideas from many unlikely places that we’ll never know of.

They finish off with ‘Nineteen’, another chance to vault the ten minute mark, loaded with melodic curlicues, uncommon time signatures and tremendous ambition. Buy this record, in the name of good flux.

www.bbc.co.uk/atl


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