El Ten Eleven: Fast Forward

On their sixth full-length album, El Ten Eleven connects their well-honed musical idiosyncrasies with personal tragedy.
El Ten Eleven
Fast Forward
Fake Record

Written shortly after drummer Tim Fogarty’s father passed away, El Ten Eleven’s sixth full-length album, Fast Forward, bridges the familiar with the unexpected. With track titles referencing areas in Pittsburgh where Tim and his father would spend time (“Point Breeze”, “Scott Township”), Fast Forward maps the melancholic expanse of human grief and memory, coloring it, however, with a melodic brightness. For example, in “Scott Township”, Kristian Dunn’s six-string bass tremolo first finds the mournful beauty of Disintegration-era Cure as it floats among synthetic shimmers, before stepping up an octave and swerving into luminously danceable experimentation.

The convergence of disconsolate tones and upbeat rhythms throughout the record articulates the intertwinement of sadness and happiness inherent in the act of remembering. As in “Battle Aves” — a song that harnesses the bass power of Russian Circles in a Ratatat-like sheath — the effects-driven loops model a sonic form of memory that looks backward with a tragic ethos, as well as forward with hopeful invention, exploring the interplay between the familiarity of instrumental refrains and the newness of musical occasions that pop up in short bursts. Charting out harmonically and rhythmically saturated archipelagos of modulated loops and electronic blips, Fast Forward emphasizes the way multiple voices are expressed and reshaped through various stages of interaction, finding unique expressions of grief in its complex instrumentation.

RATING 7 / 10