Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
The "free" in Toronto trio Absolutely Free's name is a loaded term. While on the surface, it's a reference to Frank Zappa's similarly titled album, it also represents freedom from the modest success of the group's previous art-punk band, DD/MM/YYYY. More importantly, naming their new incarnation so underscores the band's freedom to do anything. Thus far, Absolutely Free have released a handful of mini-epics packed with bizarre samples and motorik beats via two vinyl singles, provided live scores to a 1950s UFO film and some Norman McLaren animations, and played a gig at an indoor pool (along with gradually introducing listeners to their unique sound via a selective touring schedule).
Back in 2012, when Absolutely Free formed in the wake of DD/MM/YYYY's abrupt breakup, the Toronto trio likened their new songwriting approach to building a ship in a bottle. It would be precise, patient, and full of restraint, a contrast to the high volumes they pumped out as their former math-rock outfit. Now, two years later, the band is finally releasing their self-titled debut.
The Absolutely Free nucleus of Matt King, Moshe Rozenberg, and Mike Claxton previously played with Toronto contorto-punk outfit DD/MM/YYYY, a band whose unpronounceable name was commonly verbalized as “Day Month Year” but was originally meant to be substituted with the date of whenever they got together to play. The implicit message was that, at a show (particularly those held in the sort of ad-hoc, stage-less venues DD/MM/YYYY frequented) what matters is not so much the name of who’s playing as the commitment and intensity they put into the performance, which should in turn forever burn a memory of a specific time and place into the lucky attendee’s blown mind. And while the music Absolutely Free creates is dramatically different than that of their former incarnation, the underlying principle remains: It’s a band’s ultimate obligation to make their audience feel like they’re part of something special.
Toronto’s Absolutely Free was born of the ashes of defunct art punk band DD/MM/YYYY, and has been patient in leading up to the release of the band’s debut full-length disc, Absolutely Free.. During the past two years, the group has just released two singles as a primer for the direction of this eight-song collection. However, the trio—comprising Matt King (drums/vocals), Moshe Rozenberg (synths/drums) and Mike Claxton (synths/bass)—hasn’t been resting on its laurels.
The guys in Absolutely Free are either voracious consumers of all sorts of free-flowing, unpredictable tributaries of rock and pop music who are highly skilled at repurposing previously explored sounds into something almost new, or they are just really lucky and happened upon their amalgamated style by chance. Regardless of how they got there, the Toronto trio's first album is an impressive debut that shows the band to be masters of taking psychedelic, experimental, and simply interesting music of many eras and delivering them all wrapped up in one shimmering package that's easy to absorb. Breaking it down a little more, one hears traces of old sonic explorers like Pink Floyd, new cosmic guitar magicians like Tame Impala, weirdos like the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective, '70s synth pioneers like Cluster, and modern trance dance acts like Studio.