Thursday, May 1, 2014

Album Review: Frameworks - Loom

Album Rating: A-
For me, Small Victories was hardly representative of its humble moniker.  In 11 crushing minutes, Gainesville, Florida's Frameworks handily made a name for themselves, seamlessly flowing from one "wave"-approved genre to the next, without so much as a three-second pause between songs.  Topshelf, expectedly, picked up on such compositional expertise, and with their assistance, LP1 was given the time, care and nourishment it deserved to bloom into the appealingly unconventional beast that Loom is today.  For a band that's already showcased so many different sides of themselves, there sure seem to be a lot more to uncover.

While Frameworks were never plagued by structural issues on the Small Victories tracks, teaming up with Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Joyce Manner, Comadre) was not, by any means, an ill-advised choice from a mixing standpoint.  Where the Small Victories masters sat in the immediate and robust rows of the audible spectrum, Loom finds more comfort in an intriguing exploratory haze of dusky frequencies, not unlike Have Heart's 2008 election for the muddy over the mighty with Songs to Scream at the Sun—a choice that quickly cemented the group at the forefront of modern heavy music, and one that similarly situates Frameworks as an outfit able and willing to take such chances.

The propensity for rawness over gloss is far from Loom's only risk, with the sheer brightness of much of the music, seeping even into the advertised "darker" latter half, quickly coming to mind.  "Rosie", settled comfortably in the middle of the tracklist, proposes to shift the surprisingly positive introductory sequence of tracks (from "Loom" to "Splinters") to a melodically drabber setting, but "Bright and New" refrains from adhering to any obvious aural direction, opening with ascertainable scales, then interjecting with rock-bottom erratic chaos and finally concluding with pastoral serenity.  In a genre-bending twist no one could have ever predicted, its crunchy, muffed bass surprisingly recalls some of the best moments of Restorations' earthy 2013 offering.

Where Loom stylistically traverses, vocalist Luke Pate methodically refrains.  His delivery is easily Frameworks' most static characteristic, which would, in most cases, become a hitch, but is instead adapted into a point of intrigue.  As Pate's familiar throat is adeptly presented across an impressively expansive spectrum of sounds, from the sunny euphoria of "Loom" to the spacious post-rock of "Mutual Collision", then to the gloomy, trudging "Familiar Haze" and classic screamo aggression of "Autonomy", we, the audience, experience decades of soundscapes without feeling like dilettantes. 

Ostentatious displays of genre-hopping may generally be best presented in a "progressive"-ly labeled setting, but the plague-like avoidance of something as harmless as compartmentalization prohibits so many of these bands from achieving precisely what Loom can.  Frameworks' debut LP is a dense, dynamic package of emotional power that requires less than 30 minutes to travel from Point A to B and can still fill up an entire sonic photo album along the way.  While the esoteric listener's impetus for investigating Loom would often be the band's "mutt influence" and consequently expected mutt output, the record's true creative triumph lies in its sameness—its crafted uniformity stemming from such an ocean of sonic resources.  If Album One found this much success in deviating through overall normalcy, we can only hope that, to quote an oft-compared colleague, they "won't fake what's expected to succeed with Album [Two]."

Loom on Bandcamp

Track List:
1. Disquiet
2. Loom
3. Mutual Collision
4. True Wealth
5. Splinters
6. Rosie
7. Bright and New
8. Affordance
9. Familiar Haze
10. Autonomy
11. Agreeable Thoughts

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