Plumbiferous Media

Instant Everything, Constant Nothing – Untied States

Feb 14th 2010
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Instant Everything, Constant Nothing - Untied StatesUntied States
Instant Everything, Constant Nothing
Score: 74








The newest of what is now three albums from Untied States, Instant Everything, Constant Nothing seems to be going for the full international approach, perhaps in contrast to the band’s name, a more regionally focused play on words. To be more specific, Atlanta based Untied States released Everything a few months back in the UK only. It is now (this coming Tuesday) releasing the album in Europe and the US, under the French label Distile. But logistics aside, Instant Everything, Constant Nothing is very good, if often somewhat strange. Clearly experimental, but done by a band that could easily have played straight rock had they so desired, Everything is a truly interesting album.

While Untied States makes a habit of including generally flawless introductions to many of their tracks, the band leaves plenty of time for tracks’ main bodies. Tracks’ compositions usually fall somewhere between one of two extremes. On one end are tracks like “Not Fences, Mere Masks,” which is made up of multiple small sections, each of which stands out on its own, that are then strung together with no transitions whatsoever. While as a result, the track as a whole has little to no direction, or at least gives the listener no sense of direction, the individual sections are among the best on the album. They are always engaging, dense, but by no means overcrowded, unique, and never played for too long. On the other end of the track spectrum are those that fall to a somewhat more conventional approach of larger, more connected sections. In general, these tracks aren’t quite as well played, but they have the distinct advantage having a navigating light, if pale and distant.

On Instant Everything, Constant Nothing, lead singer Colin Arnstein creates a very distinct vocal presence – quite fitting for such an experimental album. Beginning with the choral echo of “Unsilvered Mirrors,” Arnstein modulates his voice in a variety of ways from singing with Thom Yorke-esque intonation to the much harsher vocal edge of tracks like “Delusions Are Grander,” to every point in between. Arnstein’s voice, even through the most chaotic parts of Everything, is fit skillfully to the music. The only problem with the vocals then, are that they often get engulfed by the rest of the music, even when the music could most use their direction.

The lyrics of Everything aren’t always easy to understand. This is, however, not especially problematic given Untied States’ dense sound. Rather, they contribute more to the music as sound than as lyrical content, though a few (genuinely interesting) lines do poke through. In general though, the prime function of the lyrics seems to be to allow Arnstein to actually sing something, rather than, say, moan for the entire length of the album.

Untied States attempts to experiment in as many ways as possible with Everything, with quite solid results. The combination of Colin Arnstein’s distinctive tones and the energy of Untied States’ musical elements creates a high level of layering which courses through the album, demonstrating Untied States’ skill at crafting even the most abstract of sound. It’s not perfect – occasional missteps and a general lack of discernible direction detract somewhat from the overall quality of Instant Everything, Constant Nothing, but for the most part, creativity triumphs over these flaws.



"Not Faces, Mere Masks" from Instant Everything, Constant Nothing


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