Amstrong - "Sprinkler" (Clearspot 1999, EFA CD 05413)

From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)

Amstrong is a Danish band that plays aggressive rocking electronic songs. The music is dominated by synths, but also includes bass, guitar, and lovely vocals by Marie-Louise. What attracted me to Amstrong was the aggressive, almost industrial feel of the music, that utilizes a combination of grating, razor sharp synths with more ambient sounds and Marie-Louise's ethereal vocals, and a driving rock beat.

My favorites among the seven tracks are "Everyday" and "Then Gone Too Soon". "Everyday" includes static-laced synths and rocking guitar with a bit of a droning sound on the one hand, and faint orchestral mellotron and Marie-Louise's vocals on the other. An interesting combination of sounds and a pretty good song too. It's a little on the industrial side, but more song-oriented than industrial typically is. "Then Gone Too Soon" is the real winner with its swirling, still aggressive synths and buzzsaw guitars. A cool spaced out noise rocker.

But there are some varied rhythms that caught my attention as well. "Iced" is representative of the band's spacey industrial leanings, but also with a hip-hoppy feel. "Metro Star" begins as standard ambient space electronica, but soon a plodding Dub-like beat comes in along with the harsher synths heard earlier. This is pretty freaky stuff and I'm impressed with the combination of synth sounds that include both harsh, grating sounds, and more pleasing ones as well. Not your standard floating electronica. And "Longer" is an interesting tune which, though not as much is happening musically, I was reminded of Sade having brought her lounge act to an electronica band. Weird but intriguing.

And intriguing is how I feel about Amstrong. It's certainly different. Not firmly in the noise-psych realm, but definitely out in space. The band is clearly interested in songs, but is just as focused on the sounds that come together to create the songs. An interesting trip.

Sprinkler is distributed by InnerSPACE Records.
For more information on Amstrong you can visit them at the Clearspot web site.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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