Errors: Come Down with Me

[5 April 2010]

By Arnold Pan

PopMatters Music Editor

While the power of influence can be both a blessing and a curse for any ambitious emerging band, Glasgow’s Errors bear the burden a little more than most. The self-described “post-electro” quartet has had the good fortune of finding generous benefactors in post-rock heavies Mogwai, who took Errors under its wing by giving the young band exposure through opening slots on tours as well as releasing their records on Mogwai’s own Rock Action label. On Come Down with Me, it’s clear that Errors have learned the lessons of their genre-defining big brothers well, creating bold instrumental music that leaves enough room for nuance and conveys a tinge of dark humor without needing any words.

But therein lies the rub for Errors too, hard pressed due to guilt by association to escape the massive shadow cast by Mogwai. Of course, it’s no coincidence that there’s at least a family resemblance in the music, particularly in the way Errors construct panoramic soundscapes that are sinewy and imposing, but also painstakingly detail oriented. This time around, the Mogwai comparisons seem more apt for Errors, since the new album amplifies the rock action a little more over the electronic vibe of It’s Not Something But It Is Like Whatever, the band’s strong 2008 debut that has somehow remained unreleased and shockingly overlooked in the US. Indeed, many of Mogwai’s distinctive qualities come through on the sophomore effort, particularly in the haunting, patient dynamics and minor-key dramatics of tracks like “Antipode” and “The Black Tent”.

But give Come Down with Me more of a blind assessment and hints of other heady sources of inspiration become more apparent, expanding the range and scope of what Errors achieve on the album. The album opens like a redux of Yo La Tengo’s middle-period work on “Bridge or Cloud?”, embellishing the hazy poignancy of Painful or And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out with deft electronic touches. And what guitar experimenting combo worth its salt doesn’t want to reprise My Bloody Valentine, as Errors try to do with the shimmering atmospherics of “The Erskine Bridge”?

Even more so than Mogwai, Tortoise comes across on Come Down with Me as perhaps Errors’ most prominent influence: “Germany” might at first seem like too rote a redux of something off of TNT, but then the band switches gears mid-song, sounding like a stretched-out instrumental version of Foals, before settling into an dancey groove that cross-pollinates both analogues. On the closing number “Beards”, the resemblance to Tortoise is more in terms of structure than the actual sound, as the song winds to a false ending in the middle only to lock back into a pulsing groove highlighted by guitars that could’ve come off one of the more recent Sonic Youth albums. In the case of Errors, it’s thoughtful, often ingenious reinterpretation that makes for the sincerest form of flattery, not flat-out imitation.

Listen some more and Errors seems to strike on a formula that’s more their own, especially on the electro-heavy offerings. Though they wouldn’t exactly sound out of place on DFA remix collection, the hyped-up synths of “Supertribe” update and advance the group’s own earlier work, where anthemic keyboards roar with precision and force rather than rely on any of electronica’s high-energy clichés. But it’s on the single “A Rumour in Africa” that Errors create their own vernacular, reimagining dance punk with intricate interplay and catchy instrumental refrains that put a premium on complexity over bluster. There, Errors sound like a band coming into its own, where they really make their influences footnotes rather than put them in quotation marks. While Come Down with Me, as a whole, suggests that Errors aren’t quite at that point just yet, the album also suggests that it probably won’t be too long before they arrive.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/122133-errors-come-down-with-me/