Music, Print, Reviews June 18, 2015

Album Review: A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixation

by Clark Lamson



“I mean, there are always goals, and there are always milestones that you want to hit, but that just never makes the best record,” said Oliver Ackermann, lead singer and guitarist of A Place To Bury Strangers.

We got together to discuss the most recent release for the Brooklyn-based noise-core, post-punk outfit, Transfixation. After the release of their previous album, Worship, the band reached a breaking point.

“We were kind of working together for so long that it just became too difficult, and it was just getting too intense and too crazy because we were spending too much time recording,” Ackermann said, “so we kinda had to take a break.”

After some much needed down time the trio reformed with a new and refreshed outlook on the project and proceeded to lay down the most raucous addition to their discography yet. On February 17th, APTBS released their new album, a perfect representation of why we need pop music and all its predictability. Transfixation exists, if only as a measuring post against the aural insanity that is Transfixation.

Since their debut in 2007, the Brooklyn noise outfit has made a name for themselves by making incredibly dense, gritty, and brazenly loud post-punk tunes. I’m talking loud. Like sonic boom loud. Jumbo-jet jousting loud. 10,000 atoms bursting at a rave loud. The sound is matched up with the cold, brittle Ackermann vocals to create some truly tasking music. While their albums have always been admirable, the band aimed to capture the infamous fury and wrath of their live performances in Transfixation.

“You just look up at the sky, and its so insanely amazing and beautiful, and much more beyond what anyone would ever imagine. If you open yourself up to those kind of ideas that’s beyond what some person could do physically, then I think you’ll create something that’s better than that… We learned a lot about what it would be to capture a live moment. But in the end, it was all about something we could never really plan.”

I will be shocked if another album has a better closer than Transfixation.The song reaches levels of sonic height, chriscendo, and sheer bloody noise that are singular in music. Perhaps in spite of its noise, it has all the tonalities and (for extreme want of a better word) charm of “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin, or any number of tunes from The Hives. Ackermann had this to say when I asked him which song on the album was his favorite:

“The last track, ‘I Will Die.’ It’s just really cool because the recording that’s on the record is us writing the song out of thin air. Nobody had ever played any of those chords before, or that drum part, and none of those words had been thought of before or anything, except for right at that moment when that song happened on the recording. That’s an example from what I was saying about recording our practices. It wasn’t recorded well or anything. We even tried to redo that song many times, but it’s what was happening just at that very moment was just so special.”

Together again, Oliver Ackermann and the other members of A Place to Bury Strangers have created an album that renders me speechless. Bold, challenging, taxing. They just don’t seem to cover it. This album is 100 speeding trains colliding, and the players are the conductors. Transfixation shocks and excites. I asked Ackermann what it meant to him.

“It was something that took over our lives for a moment, it kind of even changed all of us. For me, in some ways, it was an awakening. It was just getting a little bit of education. I think that was what the record needed.”



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