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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 232 - 07/31/15

Flying Saucer Attack
Instrumentals 2015
Drag City

It's hard to know what to say about this new album by Flying Saucer Attack. I first heard FSA at uni in the mid to late '90s, and they had a vague and faintly cosmic mystique unique to pre-internet bands. All you had to go on might be the album cover and a review in the NME or a mention by John Peel. Back then, FSA were a duo (David Pearce and Rachel Brook) who stirred faint beats and vocals into their mix of atmospheric languor and MBV-esque guitar-storms. Instrumentals 2015, the first FSA album in 15 years, is just Pearce, his guitar and effects.

I don't know if these pieces have been tinkered with over the years or if they were all recorded recently. The title would suggest the latter. But it doesn't really matter either way. The context is fairly meaningless. All there is is the music. And it has the same vague and faintly cosmic mystique as it had in the mid to late '90s.

There's certainly no lack of this kind of guitar-driven ambient music around. Chuck a rock and you're bound to hit someone who plays the guitar through a string of effects pedals. However, it's rare to find someone who plays the guitar in such a beguiling way. Pearce isn't reinventing the wheel, but he does create a yearning, melancholic atmosphere akin to Windy & Carl at their most minimal and forlorn.

Describing how each of these 15 pieces sound is beside the point, really; they begin and end as though they're drifting in and out of the room, making sure they colour the air without drawing too much attention to themselves. Pearce's sound is purposefully hesitant and ambiguous. Whether the individual pieces fade out after a couple of minutes or stretch on for six, seven, ten minutes, there's the sense that in leaving the music sounding unfinished, Pearce has expanded the music's horizons, leaving it open to interpretation.

Repeat listens to this album bring fresh perspectives on the music, but no definitive answers. In that regard, Instrumentals 2015 feels so open-ended that what you take away from it largely depends on what you bring to it. I started with faint fond memories of their self-titled debut album. I walk away with a nagging sensation that there's something there worth unearthing, just beyond my grasp. So I keep coming back to explore.

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