The Dutch Flat – Ghosts

The Dutch Flat, an ever-rotating bunch of three to five guys, lives in Portland, Ore. To my knowledge, that’s not really a place known for music. Their former residence was Seattle, which as we all know as the home of all things rock. But don’t write The Dutch Flat off as just another rock band that thinks it’s the best thing to hit rock music since Nirvana. This music is powerful, artistic, and inventive, and it’s not the least bit pretentious.
The amazing thing about this album is that it uses only one guitarist. I said to myself after listening through this CD once: “Man.this album is so inventive and original that there must’ve been joint thought on this album. One person putting together all the guitar lines for this amazing album would just be insane! It’s just too powerful for one guy to do alone!” But Tim Graham has put together every guitar line single-handedly. The talent he alone possesses could fuel about five bands. But he is most definitely not the only reason I thought there were two guitars. The bass, supplied by founding member Matt Genz, is just as loud, just as important, and plays just as many riffs as the furious, thundering guitar does. But even that is not the reason that The Dutch Flat is so amazing. Co-founder Sam Schauer beats his drums like a maniac, executing complex riffs that mesh perfectly with both Genz and Graham, and fills in the spaces in the sound with brilliant fills and well-placed cymbals. And that is the real reason Dutch Flat is perfect musically. The three feed off each other so completely that to replace any of the them would destroy The Dutch Flat.
The best track here is the double-song, 14-minute rock odyssey “Ghosts/Button Thief.” The length is an homage to the talent apparent on Ghosts: it’s 14 minutes long, but it doesn’t have a boring second. It is also the best sample of true Dutch Flat sound I can give you. The bass and drums drive this song, with sections of it being strictly being drums and bass. You can hardly even tell where these sections are though, as the bass takes over the melody so efficiently it could be confused for a low guitar. The guitars, when they appear, are pulsing, rhythmic, and angular, adding more depth to the already full sound. The riffs that Graham pounds out here are volatile and unexpected. They start with a familiar chord, and before you can form an opinion in your mind of where it might go next, they’ve already moved on to a rhythm, note, or chord that you would never have put there. It’s a defining feature of their sound, and one that can take them places.
The vocals are there somewhat, used sparingly, as vocals are the only area that the Dutch Flat doesn’t have excess talent in. The lyrics are issued in a voice that is somewhere between a growl and a moan, and which is not very melodic or easy on the ears. In fact, the only positive use of their vocals is to emphasize the emotion portrayed by the rest of the song.
The Dutch Flat is one band that actually lives up to its talk. These musicians truly don’t confine to anything, as their interesting riffs, powerful bass, and dramatic ideas create something completely original. And that’s what really impressed me here: Every song offered here is completely inventive, yet still down-to-earth and listenable. Some rock bands are so far ahead of the time that it’s tough to enjoy them. Not Dutch Flat. Their rock is infused with artistic morals and enough talent to make Radiohead gnash its teeth in jealousy, but it’s still just good, good rock music. To those who hear this, it will become an instant classic.