Even the most cursory listen to Lullabye Arkestra’s Ampgrave betrays how far Constellation has come from it’s staunchly instrumental post-rock beginnings. Consisting of bassist Katia Taylor and Do Make Say Think’s drummer Justin Small, the duo are all about genre hybridization and dialectics. The opener “Unite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” plays out like an amalgamation of post-harcore, metal and a mariachi sprawl of horn punctuations in the raging chorus shouts. “All I Can Give Ya” kicks some of the inclusiveness to the curb and settles into a dusty bar room groove for Taylor and Small to trade lonesome and coy banter while backed by a cooing choir. “Come Out, Come Out” does it one sweeter, quashing the pathos and rage for a delicate, communal invitation fronting a driving beat and bright piano melodies. The organ-rich funeral waltz “Hold On” does white-boy blues right: pleading, fiery and thunderous, but the group’s other foray into the territory, “Y’Make Me Shake,” veers into Jon Spencer blooze, that unfortunate stepchild of the blues where drunken, spiritless testifications (mostly by white singers) are confused with emotionality. It’s a momentary lapse in judgment, but it’s still enough to remind listeners of all the sonically under-developed guitar-and-drums duos out there beating the R&B horse, and that we don’t need bass-and-drums acts following suit. Lullabye Arkestra’s strength is in keeping things either simple or weird and flirting with the pulse of indie rock circa ’98 is doing neither. Luckily, the gonzo “Ass Worship” plays the part of redeemer, building in a cacophonous swirl of riffs, chugging horns and fist-pumping chants of “Hail! Hail! Rock and roll!” It’s a testament to many things, but certainly not the blues.
Constellation Records: www.cstrecords.com