Shoko Horikawa and Jesse Hall, the duo known as Experimental Dental School, bring angular skronk and blissed-out whimsy in equal measures on its excellent new LP, Forest Field. The band’s devastatingly concise songwriting and unique chemistry begs for a larger audience—one that is as adventurous and in love with contrast as this pair. This hard-touring, resolutely DIY band from Portland, Oregon certainly deserves it. Much of the strength of Forest Field lies in the balance struck between Horikawa and Hall to produce something both pretty and ugly. While Hall’s metallic guitar tone and approach might suggest Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, his sharper edges meld with Horikawa’s playful drumming and vocal coo to create a singular sound. The drummer often avoids the most obvious drum patterns in favor of askew beats that add compelling tension and color. Employing their gifts in brief songs that abruptly shift, veer, and change tempo, the band’s ying-and-yang approach yields strikingly distinctive results.
The music on Forest Field is hard to categorize primarily because it revels in several different styles and moods. Tracks like “Earthquake” and “Tear Brush” jerk and spasm while others like “Royal Fantasy Snow” and “Now I Can Do Whatever I Want” float and drip like a swirling psychedelic cloud. These stylistic shifts might overwhelm lesser bands, but there’s nary a false note on the album. As such, Forest Field feels refreshingly organic—as brutal and beautiful as nature itself.
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