Published Feb 13, 2015Brooklyn's A Place to Bury Strangers are a quintessentially DIY trio. Not only do they build most of their own gear — thanks to bandleader/singer/guitarist Oliver Ackermann's effects pedal company, Death By Audio — but, until it closed late last year, they also ran their own performance space and recording studio (also called Death By Audio). Though it wasn't intended as such, Transfixiation contains some of the final documents of the latter endeavour: All but two of the songs were recorded at DBA during a sort of trial-and-error process whereby Ackermann was attempting to find the most effective ways to capture the band's live sound.
Indeed, there's a constant feeling of exploration on APTBS's fourth album, as the songs range from the blistering lo-fi crackle of "Love High" and "I Will Die" to the spacious grooves and shimmering guitar effects of "Supermaster" and "Lower Zone." Compared to the coolly detached electro-infused pulse of 2012's somewhat disappointing Worship, there's a decidedly rawer energy to the recordings on Transfixiation, but one that still employs expansive production to deliver the various sonic assaults with the most hi-def destruction. The best moments are when all of these elements are working together to make songs both catchy and corrosive, like the propulsive "We've Come So Far" (one of the two tunes recorded in Norway with Serena-Maneesh bandleader Emil Nikolaisen) and the unhinged bass feature, "Straight."
APTBS haven't lost any momentum in their decade-plus career destroying eardrums, and now that they're effectively opening a new chapter in the band's history, it's clear that there's life after Death By Audio. (Dead Oceans)