You gotta hand it to them. Chessie is one of the most unique bands going today, if only for the fact their output is all concept albums centered around locomotives. On top of that, former Lorelei bassist Stephen Gardner’s first critically praised album as Chessie was heavily rooted in hardcore breakbeat, winning Amazon’s best dance and DJ record for 1998. Since then, he has allowed more outside influences into the group, adding Andy Ingalls and engineer Ben Bailes after 1999’s Meet, while the aesthetic moved to a more Tortoise like realm.
Now as the duo of Ben and Stephen, their six years late follow-up to one of the New York Times best album of 2001, Manifest, sees that album’s ambient come slacker-rock formula strengthened immensely. The synthetic beats have been seriously toned down. It’s now as if Sigur Rós took a trip to Shining Time Station instead of following children and the elderly to Hopelandia. The guitar sound is as raw and in your face as the later work of Pavement, yet the new wave ambiance doesn’t abandon you. It’s easily their richest work yet.