Review
Amplifier
Echo Street

Kscope (2013) Sarah

Amplifier – Echo Street cover artwork
Amplifier – Echo Street — Kscope, 2013

This review is part of my coverage of the 2013 Progressive Music Awards, on 3 September.

Amplifier is one of the few bands in the small but noticeably growing post-progressive scene (proving, once and for all, that "post-" can be appended to anything). It's music that firmly falls into the progressive rock camp--you won't be at a loss for extended pieces, odd time signatures, and musical prowess--but also utilizes the dynamic movement and repetitiousness of post-rock. The fusion creates notably complex and progressive music with the same feeling and emotional effectiveness of post-rock, a truly powerful combination that, at its peak, can create some of the most arresting music possible.

And Echo Street is one of the finest realizations of this genre yet. Every single song on this album moves like a tidal wave, building up and rolling over the listener, crushing them with the force of a dozen untethered musical crescendos. The music starts very softly--the beginning of the album is literally inaudible--but Amplifier are in no rush. They take their time in exploring the aural space around them, building their music in an inexorably increasing cycle of gradual builds and shallow denouements, until the combined weight of their mountainous music collapses in on itself in a beautiful, musical climax.

"Extra Vehicular", the twelve-minute epic, is probably the standout song on the album, moving itself through a half-dozen climaxes before finally releasing the listener from its powerful grip. But it's far from alone as a quality track--"Mary Rose" has a strangely attractive, slightly off-kilter melody, and the title track manages to hit the hardest while using only lyricless vocals. In fact, not all of the pieces have to be that relentlessly cyclical nor needlessly complicated--"Paris in the Spring", a largely acoustic-based ballad forming the centre of the album, is about as basically effective a piece as anyone could hope for, based solely around a simple, gradually-building refrain of "Where the river goes, I go".

Granted, some songs aren't quite as satisfying--"Never & Always" takes entirely too long to reach its payoff (around eight full minutes until we hit the truly gratifying progression) and sounds weak doing it, and "Between Today & Yesterday" never quite arrives where it needs to. But even considering the lack of true payoff, the journey still manages to be memorable, which is more than I can say for many albums.

Echo Street has a nod for album of the year at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards, and I can completely understand why. This is a flabbergasting piece of music, and certainly the best out of Amplifier's career. While I don't think it's the best of the year, it's certainly damn close; progressive fans everywhere must own this album.

Recommended if you like: Big Big Train, modern AnathemaOceansize

9.0 / 10Sarah • August 12, 2013

Amplifier – Echo Street cover artwork
Amplifier – Echo Street — Kscope, 2013

Related news

Black Moth and Amplifier hit UK this April

Posted in Tours on February 21, 2015

Amplifier set to release Mystoria

Posted in Records on August 12, 2014

Amplifier join Superball

Posted in Labels on April 27, 2014

Recently-posted album reviews

Travoltas

Back To The City
White Russian Records (2021)

Somehow it seems to me that Travoltas released Until We Hit The Shore only last year or perhaps the year before. But nooooo, it’s been four years already. That record is still on heavy rotation here, especially when the weather is sunny and the temperature is high (but not too hot). So I was so happy to hear a new EP by … Read more

Bootlicker

Self-Titled
Neon Waste, Static Shock Records (2021)

Rough and tough d-beat, oi-influenced punk with a boot on the cover. If you follow the scene you probably already have a sense of what Bootlicker sounds like based on that alone. Released on Neon Waste (USA/Canada) and Static Shock (UK), this is Discharge-influenced punk that pulls no punches. It’s angry, shouty, and aggressive as all get-out with memorable lyrics … Read more

Stella Research Committee

A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness
Independent (2021)

Labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Skin Graft Records and the “now wave” and noise rock avalanche they launched has served as an immense source of inspiration for a myriad of bands. Listening to Stella Research Committee’s fifth LP, they do not only seem to be overly familiar with the output of the aforementioned label rosters, but have channelled those influences … Read more