Numbers – Three

Numbers - ThreeNumbers

Three

01. Shortly Broken
02. Empty Eyes
03. Legal Lee Speaking
04. Fight or Flight
05. It’s Chilly Out
06. Undertow
07. Truth Bender
08. Sicken
09. Recreate
10. Swanky Sauce
11. Frames
12. Ghost in the Room (Prelude)
13. Ghost in the Room

[3/25/2014]
[Self Released]

A few reviews ago, the term “core sound” was mentioned. The phrase is an important one in music; in order for innovation not to spin out of control, blindly spewing disjointed sounds into space, a firm and well-developed basic sound needs to exist. Ever since the term came up, this contributor was troubled by the question: “What’s a good example for a new band, debut album perhaps, that really has their core sound figured out?”. An answer seemed out of reach. That is, until Numbers came along with their amazing debut album, Three. What we have here is the case in point: a band that is so in touch with their core sound that it allows them to test and break their boundaries constantly.

Three is basically fueled by two distinct sounds: one is an unrelenting dedication to intensely progressive breakdowns and lead guitars, coupled with powerful guttural vocals. The other is a far flung electronic style. This style ranges from The Prodigy to more  dreamy soundbites that would not feel out of place on a Plini production. Both sounds share equal play time and the band relentlessly utilizes them in varied forms. Numbers don’t just use this mix as a gimmick; one can hear that these are true influences on their styles. The result elevates the combination from a novelty to a truly endearing hybrid: an album that’s both fast and emotionally gratifying, yet with its share of complex and thoughtful phases. From the rave-like beginning to ‘Sicken’, mixing strobe induced synthesizers with breakneck guitar work, to the constantly-shifting ‘Empty Eyes’, Numbers take advantage of this unique amalgam  to constantly reel the listener back in.

‘Undertow’ is a prime example of the intricacy of Three; it’s an epic track, clocking in at eleven-and-a-half minutes. The first three minutes feature one of the best drum-piano conversations in recent years, with both instruments playing among themselves yet together, creating a certain giddy opening to the track. With a brief respite along the 4 minute mark, featuring tech dripping harmonies matched with dominant bass, the track then turns to a much heavier progression. All the way to the nine minute mark, the electronics become much more vigorous, melding with insanely varied vocals and guitars that remind one at times of early Devin Townsend, in all his glorious madness. But Numbers aren’t ready to let the listener move on: they flip the switch again, turning once more to the digital. This is by far the most upbeat of parts on the album: soft, groovy bass guides one through meandering, crystallized chords, finally landing us at the ending, a truly moving collaboration between strings and classical piano.

And so we come full circle. If Numbers weren’t completely in touch with their core sound, they wouldn’t have been able to pull off ‘Undertow’ as well as they did. All the different styles and jumps would have tangled and dispersed, their power lost in the midst of awkward transitions and forced passages. But instead, as with the whole album, we receive a dynamic creation sustained by convincing musicianship and a compelling passion to explore. I’d like to end this review on a personal note: Seattle, what the hell are they putting in your water? Whatever it is, it’s created two amazing progressive releases in the last month or so. Drink deep of whatever that substance is because progressive music could certainly use the unique and original approach Numbers bring to the table.

Numbers – Three gets…

4.5/5

-EK

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.