A Place To Bury Strangers have the distinct honor of being named the loudest band in New York. I think that’s an understatement as they could easily be the loudest band in the universe if Mogwai were to go acoustic. Either way, if you throw on any one of APTBS five studio albums you’d quickly realize they live up to that title.
Band leader and guitar guru Oliver Ackermann makes a living making things loud and uncomfortable via his effects pedal company Death By Audio. His handiwork turns guitars into weapons of mass destruction, and he engages said instruments of doom on his own albums. His shoegaze/post-punk songs are turned into a sonic wasteland of crushing songs and Tinnitus. It’s like Jesus and Mary Chain, Suicide, and My Bloody Valentine thrown into a blender set to liquify and served with a side of existential bliss.
On A Place To Bury Strangers latest release, the EP Hologram(released on Ackermann’s new label DedStrange), Ackermann is backed by a new rhythm section in husband/wife duo John and Sandra Fedowitz(of duo Ceremony.) It seems these two have honed in the chaos of APTBS without sacrifcing any of the fire and intensity. This could very well be a turning point for Ackermann and APTBS.
Over the course of five tracks APTBS covers plenty of territory. Groove-heavy opener “End Of The Night” almost teeters into pop territory. Touches of MBV in the Kevin Shields-like guitar wooziness give the song just enough psychedelic splendour to keep it from teetering in the sunlight. Ackermann sounds invigorated here, not as dour as he did on 2018s Pinned. “I Might Have” explodes into shards of sonic shrapnel, like The Stooges mainlining 50,000 volts. This is definitely more punk rock than APTBS have sounded in a long time.
Elsewhere “Playing The Part” is a minor key track that has a clean jangle to the guitar that sometimes teeters into surf guitar vibes. This is a stunning track for sure. “In My Hive” is an urgent industrial-tinged song that wavers between psychedelic and fever dream. “I Need You” closes it out on a wave of ethereal reverb and an almost romantic longing.
Hologram feels like a new beginning for the post-punk/noise rock stalwart Oliver Ackermann. The long-running A Place To Bury Strangers has turned a new sonic leaf without losing what made them so special in the first place.
7.9 out of 10