5 Rue Christine
By: Eric G.
All three members of Seattle's Hovercraft team up with Stereolab's Mary Hansen to form Schema, a fluid musical experiment in noise and beauty under the pretext of rock and roll. Unstructured rock music can be quite a chore to listen to but not when you have Hansen's exquisite vocals bobbing monotonously over top the ebb and flow of synthetic noisebursts, heavily treated guitar, Cure-ish bass lines, and unpredictably bombastic rhythms.
This EP marks the beginning of what I hope to be a long relationship between Hansen and Hovercraft. Even without Stereolab's formulaic retro-futuristic pop guiding her, Hansen's voice still adds that instantly recognizable yet otherworldly quality to Hovercraft's atmospheric meanderings. Electronic blips and stuttering programmed beats surface amidst all the elegiac noise, but the organic instruments control the music's temperament.
These are not by any means typical songs. The structures are unorthodox, building up and leveling off in odd increments, but you won't miss the lack of verses and choruses because this music will sweep through your speakers and make you forget where you are. The deconstruction of the guitar is reminiscent of Daniel Ash's early days in Bauhaus the way it shreds and shatters while somehow still sounding musical. The rhythm section is also impressive, balancing a spacey, repetitive foundation with all out thrash.
The mood of the music is ominous and tense but also serene. The climactic combustion of "Unde" glides seamlessly into the spacey "We Think We're Sane." The latter song's dancey intro provides the perfect setting for Hansen's angelic cadence. The centerpiece of the EP, "Echolalia…Curvilinear", which surges for almost twelve minutes, is a testament to the band's perfectly honed dynamic. The guitars shred and squeal backed by propulsive rhythms and light, airy keyboards. Having a song last twelve minutes breaks any kind of punk ethos, but there's not a wasted second or a boring moment. I'd even go so far as to say the song is too short as I could listen to Hansen sing lullabies over the sound of the world collapsing all day long.
"Far From Where We Began" is a distant cousin to Stereolab's early, droning indie rock. The repetitive bass line and Hansen's "La la la's" together with the echoing guitar and simple drumbeats recall anything off Peng! or Transient Random Noisebursts… "Getting Smart" creates a machinated musical limbo with Hansen's vocals buried in the background. The electronics seem to take over here. The guitar manages to trickle in, though, still sounding like the build-up in "Bela Lugosi's Dead." The song disappears with a whisper, but this EP reverberates in my ears long after it has ended. This is easily some of the best electronic/experimental rock fusion I've ever heard.