A Truth Called Nothing – Old Hits 2: More Old Hits – EP Review
The prodigal sons return! 😉
You know, it’s only been since 2017 since we last heard from A Truth Called Nothing…as much as absence makes the heart grow fonder, my speakers have been missing these guys! If you follow us here at SBS, you’ll remember them from being nominated to our yearly top-ten list in 2016 for their album Sluggerhand – a record that still boldly holds-up over the years…if anything, it’s still ahead of its time. They followed that up with their highly-politicized EP called The Orange Orangutan’s Revenge in the same year and released the polarizing Science – Like Religion But Real EP in 2017. While we still bumped a few tunes here & there on the SBS Podcast past that point, the duo has remained fairly silent while likely concocting a whole plethora of wild new ideas and tunes for us all to ponder on.
Silent until now that is…but before they surge forward with all-new stuff once more, A Truth Called Nothing is taking a moment to revisit “re-recordings of very old songs, during our surrealist era” on Old Hits 2: More Old Hits. Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass if its old or new – it’s all new to me and more of A Truth Called Nothing is always time well spent as far as my ears are concerned – so bring it on! Stoked to have this crew back in the mix here at our pages where creativity like theirs truly belongs…and even if these tunes happen to date back further in their catalog, chances are, they’re still light years ahead of the rest of what’s out there. NOT that I have, you know, extremely high expectations for this band or anything…
………okay, okay, I do SO – they’re an incredibly unique and creative band that puts an insane amount of thought & effort into their music in a way that can only be authentically described as ART. But they’ve never let me down before and there’s no reason to believe that A Truth Called Nothing is gonna start doing that now…or that is, back when these were written before they were released in the future…err…you get the idea – let’s check out these ‘old hits’ and find out what A Truth Called Nothing was up to…you know, a while ago, but like, also recently to re-record these tunes from the past. Alright, fuck the timelines…I’m no Doc Brown or Marty McFly, I can’t see the future, & my expertise in anything beyond music is embarrassingly limited. It’s probably best if I just say in my lane…so I’ll do that.
For a moment, when it started, I almost thought A Truth Called Nothing was going into Retrowave territory with the synths firing up “Passing Between Inquiries” with such a noticeable groove. As with all-things in this band, the idea will soon become much, much more complex, shifting gears into wildly progressive terrain. Also as with all-things-A-Truth-Called-Nothing, some will be able to hang on for this ride, while other listeners are mercilessly tossed aside in the pursuit of the art and a barrage of sound. I make no bones about the difficulty level that often comes along with absorbing their ideas & sheer range of them included in a singular experience – but it’s always intricately interesting to listen to how it all comes together and how bizarrely dialed-in to the unique vision for sound this band truly has. Will it be tough on the everyday radio-listener? Of course. I don’t think that’s something that’s consciously strived for within the band, but I do think it’s the natural accompaniment to creativity within the realm of music…they’re not necessarily trying to make it tough for people to follow, but they’re not worried about who can or can’t keep up to them as they make bold transitions or move left instead of right. Keeps it all fresh, challenging, and exciting for themselves as artists, and for those of us out there that dig on diversity in sound, it gives us music like “Passing Between Inquiries” and the rest of the tunes on this EP that are unafraid to roam creatively and include a whole variety of purely unexpected surprises. Lyrically, it also incorporates one of my long-standing favorite aspects of this band, which is that they’re unafraid to ask questions right out in the open and provide their own theories as to the answer, in a way that still leaves the overall interpretation up to us…like I said, I wasn’t kidding, it’s next-level stuff. They might be masked behind some ultra-slick & catchy sounds on “Passing Between Inquiries,” but believe me when I say, the moment you start to dig a little deeper, you’ll find yourself digging for a long, long time. Bonus points for the effects on the vocals and vibrant guitar tones that radiate throughout this first cut…they play with timing & tempo, digitalized & electric sounds, and ideas that are built ready to be absorbed, while others take time to mentally chew on. It’s stocked insanely FULL at the biggest moments of “Passing Between Inquires,” but the consistently impressive shock of sound and twists & turns found throughout this first cut keep it entirely engaging and wickedly entertaining for sure.
I like the effects on the vocals in the opening verses of “Mental Darkness” and how both the lead & background supply a completely different sound while complementing each other. Musically, “Mental Darkness” is the kind of song you have to sit back and truly fucking marvel at – think of it in its instrumental state for one thing…try to imagine yourself figuring out WHERE the vocals would even fit for the most part! Staggering stuff really…I think writing like this really speaks a lot about just how creative, innovative, and ambitious A Truth Called Nothing has clearly always been – “Mental Darkness” pushes the boundaries in multiple ways as it plays from the structure, to the vocal flow, to the clever combination of bombastic electro-influenced vibes meeting haunting classical sounds in the middle, add a splash of Bowie’s spirit into the mix for good measure…everything stacks up here into one of the most unique cuts you’ll hear this year – or any year for that matter. “Mental Darkness” is the kind of songwriting and composition that’ll drop your jaw in amazement and have you scratching your head while wondering HOW ON EARTH a band would even come up with a tune like this to begin with. Lyrically, don’t even get me started dammit…I know when something is flying right over my head that I can’t possibly grasp onto…but I also know when even that stuff is seriously damn cool too. I loved the words of “Mental Darkness,” even if I couldn’t quite fully get what the whole story was based on or might reference…I mean, it could very well be all fictional, which is just as cool with me; the important thing is that the details and imagery are there – you could pick this story apart and try to interpret its meanings in a thousand different ways I’m sure. Definitely one of my favorite breakdowns of any song on the record – I naturally love the sound of violin to begin with, but it’s flat-out gorgeous and straight-up breathtaking on “Mental Darkness” when it shows up. Vocally, I think it has a few ups/downs, likely due to the complexity of the design of the poetic nature of the narrative & storyline in the words, but there’s no doubt that the strengths severely outweigh any perceived weaknesses on this tune. It’s a noticeably ambitious and artistic tune here…a mammoth set of ideas occurring really…hard to harness the power & energy of it all combined, but I think you’ve gotta admire how well they’re able to.
The uplifting majesty that appears in the music of A Truth Called Nothing every so often, makes itself known in the strength of the melody on “Core.” That’s me doing my best to describe the indescribable by the way – there’s really no way to label the feeling you get from A Truth Called Nothing when they click into that extra-special gear and bring an astonishing melody to the surface with a refreshing burst of energy that is equally relentless in its effort to heighten the thrill. It starts with a fairly chilled-out & soulful couple verses at the beginning…I dig the busyness in the sound throughout the atmosphere even at its most subtle, & how it’s rarely, if ever, completely dead-space in a track by A Truth Called Nothing. The drums add real punch into the movement of this tune…I think there’s definitely some highlight moments on the microphone in this tune…the instrumentation is blissfully colorful and imaginative, and the overall evolution of this song from where it starts to where it ends is easily one of the most transformative. Shortest song of the set, “Core” makes smart use of its structure and delivers a unique & melodic journey, just shy of three-minutes…lyrically, it’s another triumph, straight-up. The choice of words and the imagery they provide, the questioning that consistently pops up in their music, the powerfully poetic way these thoughts are phrased & framed…I really don’t think there’s any argument that can be made otherwise – A Truth Called Nothing considers SO MUCH about their music it’s staggering. Beneath the scratchy-surface in the verses, you’ll be impressed with the soulful vocals being put forth, you’ll easily hear the stunning melody on the mic here, and eventually soon after, that intangible, inspiring sound of A Truth Called Nothing as they surge into the chorus of this cut. Also happens to have another strong ending…at their most focused, they take it right to the final seconds.
There’s a ton about “Massive” that I really dig…and in many ways, as wild, colorful, and versatile as this final track of the EP really is, it still retains a more accessible vibe throughout the entire song that would make it a more naturally suited candidate to put out there as a single to pull people into the record. I wasn’t always 100% sold on the pre-chorus & a couple verses later on in the song when it came to the vocals, but the chorus itself is so damn extraordinary that I’d pretty much take anything else that wanted to come along with it. They go big on this last tune…A Truth Called Nothing incorporates five song’s worth of ideas into this “Massive” last cut, boldly switching between styles, sounds, and demands on their own musicianship & vocals. So…I suppose I should be clear on the part I’d consider to be the chorus – or at least the biggest hook, lest there be any confusion…it’s those lines that start with “You know, there comes a time when you forget” – every single time those moments came around, I was pretty much ready to stand up and cheer for this band. They deserve the accolades – it’s a seriously powerful & memorable moment on “Massive” that’s sung to audibly frantic perfection. It’s even got a like…dare I say…almost a sound like you’d find from The Killers at their most amped-up & emotionally raging…like I was saying at the beginning here, there are access points within this final tune that you won’t find in any of the others when it comes to its appeal & accessibility. People will hear moments like the chorus of this tune the same way I do – I’m no prophet by any stretch, I’m just another dude like all of the rest of you out there who knows what connects in music, because it connected to me. Just happens I’m willing to spend my days searching for the perfect way to describe it all and type out a million words day after day in that sincere effort, but other than that, I assure you, we’re exactly the same & you’ll hear the same magic that I hear when A Truth Called Nothing really turns it on. Definitely an argument that they end Old Hits 2: More Old Hits on its strongest song, or at the very least, its most memorable hook…it’s pretty much the ultimate gateway to a repeat listen as far as “Massive” and my ears are concerned. Again – I’m confident that those of you looking for more out of your music than a simple hook to sing along with, will feel the same affinity for this incredibly creative band that I do.
Find out more about A Truth Called Nothing from their official page at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/truthnothing
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