Experimental electro that falls short of the best results
13 Homes is the fourth release from Terence J. McGaughey's solo project Millimetre. Following 2009's Heliography, McGaughey uses layers of experimental electro to create atmospheric tracks that glow – and sputter - like city streetlights.
A mish mash of skilfully manipulated sound, crushed machine beats, electro waves, rumbling bass and corrugated vocals are combined in various weights and layers. Lyrics are more often recited, poem-like – than sung. Music all about ambience and the overall experience: vocals and melodies trickle furtively beneath mysterious electro effects, beats and rhythms; lyrics are inspired by McGaughey's Irish roots – literature, poetry, and political and religious contention.
However, in reaching to experimental, artistic and atmospheric heights – lyrically and sonically - McGaughey often loses sight of basic musicality, enjoyment and tunefulness, and misses the mark completely. '13 Homes' is incredibly hit and miss.
There is something to be admired in many tracks – 'Barefoot' artfully layers crushed up electro beats, vocals and rumbling bass over a single guitar riff that carries the track – then another melodic riff over the rhythmically catchy chorus really stands out and holds attention. 'Newborn' and 'Legitimate Targets' contrast dark lyrics with a light, quirky folk feel to devastating effect, with machine like beats and percussion but with catchy vocal melodies.
'Hands Free' however, is a bubbling assault on the ears – modulated electro beats and portentous, discordant vocals make this a mechanical monster of a track. It's tough to listen to and it gets too much – vocals clash and over-heavy bass beats just sounds like confused noise.
'Intimate With the Kitchen' could remind you of Placebo – it's dark, gothic, with quick paced bassline and subtle guitar that really push the track forward to a catchy penetrating sound. Vocal melodies are easy to take in, unlike similarly dungeon-esque 'Unkonshus' - a booming track that brings to mind a gothic underground disco. The emotion is there – but vocal melodies collide and are no pleasure for the ears.
'Ready For the Stars' tries to pack in too many effects and in doing so loses everything in its harp-like guitar, vocal distortion, odd shuffling interlude, brass and jazz guitar that would be more are home in sophisticated lounge music and just doesn't fit in this dark, brooding track. 'Frozen' is even worse – some excellent electro effects but misassembled into formless noise; and the all-encompassing bass on '
The problem with 13 Homes is that in his creative frenzy, McGaughey forgets to make sounds that are pleasing to the listener, instead falling short with creatively pretentious, discordant tracks that are hard to listen to and even harder to enjoy, unless the listener turns artist and lifts away the jarring layers of sound. Modern art would be a good comparison – love it or hate it, sometimes sound, like any medium, is just such a mess that any meaning they may have held is lost in the lack of pleasing aesthetics.