Album Review: Crooks on Tape

Life

Crooks on Tape is the intersection of Rick Lee of Enon, John Schmersal of Enon and Caribou, and Joey Galvan. The group thrives on an slapdash rationale which sees them filter through hundreds of hours of recordings of impromptu sessions, piecing together samples, laying down vocals, and arriving at a veritable salad of a record which, in the words of Misra, the group’s label, is “analogous to tiny snapshots of an altered crime scene”.

While Fingerprint is most definitely pop in its ease of access and immediate appeal, it retains an experimental undertone which is the foundation off of which the album is built. From the outset, the most critical I will get is to disagree with Misra in that one can appreciate the album in its entirety as a whittled down psych-pop sculpture, completely homogeneous, rather than a piecemeal patchwork.

“Duper” is super, an assertive jump into an assertive record. Schmersal’s yelps penetrating some sensual riffwork, and at about 02:24 Crooks on Tape unleash Nintendocore glitch reminiscent of Crystal Castles.

“The Regiments” feels nonchalant yet is inexorably able to make a foot tap and in a dreary way is quite singable. Where the vocal work couldn’t be bothered, a deluge of overdriven bass helps the track seem alive, and sinister.

Other highlights include “Tito’s Riser”, in which the combination of repetition interspersed with disjointed instrumental tweaks – as well as intense industrial samples – refer to early Battles work off of EP C. In fact, it is the Galvan’s comprehension of the powerful and fitful percussion exemplar of Battle’s John Stanier that ties together an album that would perhaps otherwise contain a few loose ends.

This endearing eclecticism is delivered in pop-wrapping, and does not exactly push the envelope as an overbearingly avant-garde work. Yet the years spent in the laboratory in creating a pertinent, but somewhat edgy interpretation on the industrial dance scene have allowed Crooks on Tape to deliver the record in bold form not universally typical of a debut release, and it sheds a vibrant vitality. While suffused with a surprising predictability and melody and thus more of an “easing out”, the title of “Barging in” can be nothing but a confident statement of purpose by a group that has made its relevance clear.

Fingerprint saw the light on October 22 – for both veteran Enon fans as well as the unfamiliar, it will not disappoint.

4/5

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