Loops and loops, processed in different ways, tons of loops. If you liked spinning around when you were a kid then you will like this ride.
The password to understand Life’s A Gasp is distortion. The distorted noise is there to distort your focus from the events passing by you, distract you from what’s happening behind it, which could be maybe more interesting to experience than the sound of the effects distorting and flattening the general landscape of the album for over an hour and a quarter.
The final metaphor of Life’s A Gasp could be Beijing’s (and China’s) pollution as a layer that disconnect us from … health, maybe. Add to that the constant spinning, the eternal loops that are part of Alpine Decline’s style, and you get an album that will work for some people with a couple of songs that might reach many more.
Life’s A Gasp is mysterious. During the first couple of listenings I wasn’t very happy with it, but I had to listened to it again, because it has something interesting in it, I was just a little lost in between its centrifugal and centripetal forces, that flat noise covering all can make you forget about trying to get into the music, either tripping you around, or just kicking you out of the spin. And because Life’s A Gasp is long, it’s very long for the variety of sounds that offers in the surface, so it’s risky, but exactly that makes you think of the awareness the musicians applied in their creative process.
While listening to it I’ve imagined Life’s A Gasp played live, how would be to listen to it live, and thinking of this I remembered of Mono’s concerts in Mao Livehouse those in 2009 and 2011, they were maybe even longer than this album and they were good, Life’s A Gasp played live could turn to be a great concert.
“Pre-Columbian Artifact” is an instant hit, you will buy it in its first five seconds. Maybe someone might not get the complete album, but nobody will skip this song. I think that it was smart to throw it first, so we go over its popularity quickly, funky sounds, distorted of course. Feels like they scored with the music and decided to laugh of it with the lyrics, or even break it with a slap to monetized minds. By the way, the video features a quickie of Layabozi’s master photographer Ox in a field with airplanes, the videographer Maya Rudolph was shooting for a short with Ox and other artists and that image is from that time, the short she was working on has not yet been released.
I should maybe tell you by now that if you are a stoner you have big chances to get hypnotized and captured by the album, watch out with getting trapped in between songs, time will get blurry for you if so.
“Wasteland Repeated” is a like a riddle. Thanks for the lyrics on the Bandcamp of the album, I can understand all that Jonathan Zeitlin sings about now, I’m not sure if I’ve guessed what’s the answer to the riddle, but I’ve come up with a couple of options or more. Getting into the lyrics adds texture to the music and it’s more likely that you will sing along, the melody is fun like a ride in a fast elevator. The surfers’ strings at the end are pretty cool.
“Annihilation (What No One Told You)” is one of the few songs that brings up some contrast in the layer of noise that covers all of Life’s A Gasp, the trick is done by some killing drums that buzz louder than those kilos of effects everywhere else, they win its space.
Life’s A Gasp lacks of texture in its surface but offers an interesting ride if you like shoegaze, experimental rock, or spinning around. If you have no ears for diving through layers of effects then go listen to the first track and choose what to do next. Just be careful and check what time is it before you submerge in it if you finally do so, it’s easy to get lost in Life’s A Gasp.
Life’s A Gasp is the seventh album of Alpine Decline, the first one they release under the wings of Maybe Mars Records, and the third one they do with Yang Haisong but this time with him on the bass.