Replicator – EP

Last year saw the release of Replicator’s debut full-length and Bob Weston-produced Winterval, an album that won me over with its heavy bass and unwillingness to slow their music down. In other words, they never bored the listener. This 4-song EP [the band admits to their own pretentiousness in noting that the CD is not self-titled or untitled but has no title – ed.] contains 20 minutes of like-minded rock. But, apparently, they knew that I have a soft-spot for keyboards, which I believe add depth to a band’s sound if used properly. With new bassist Benjamin Adrian comes an artier sound. I never thought that the band that made Winterval would draw comparisons to Pere Ubu. While Replicator by no means has that Pere Ubu sound overall, they have begun to successfully balance rock with less traditional keyboard approaches and other noises. This new element of Replicator can be seen as nothing but an improvement.
“Validation Complex” begins with the recorded voice of a self-help tape before the throbbing bass and relentless guitar kick in. The shortest song on the EP fluctuates between the self-help voice over quiet guitar and bass, and thrash. The song is an instrumental except for a handful of yells. “Bawkbakawk Bawkbagone” is the most reminiscent of the straight-ahead rock found on Winterval, except for the midway break where a chicken is heard “bakawking.” The added keyboard helps to make the song a little more interesting.
The second pair of songs is even stronger than the first. “CAP Vehicle Retirement Application” begins like the tight Replicator that I have come to know. Singer Conan Neutron provides those talk-yell vocals, with which I have no complaints, over the rock for the first half of the song. But, three minutes into the song (making three minutes to spare), the song stops and transforms into a slow, keyboard-driven atmospheric number. Little bleeps and the overall atmosphere give the song quite the futuristic appeal. Perhaps the strongest (the longest) track here, the 7-minute “Epoch,” never fails to “grab your attention / like a billboard.”
With the title-less EP, Replicator essentially updates the post-punk sound of the late 70s/early 80s, instead of mimicking it like The Rapture and Radio 4 are currently doing (successfully, nonetheless). Everything from that era is in tack here: pounding bass (with no elements of funk, however) that is never lost in the mix, angular guitar, atmospheric keyboards, and, well, creativity. I embrace this slight change in direction that Replicator has taken since the very strong Winterval LP and can only hope that they further develop this new “artsy” facet of the band on their next album. I also hope that they reach the wider audience that they deserve so they can make it outside of California.