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Time and Energy
The Santa Ana based duo of Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach, formerly of Missing Since Yesterday, describe themselves as "progressive"--a genre tag that, like "alternative" before it, simultaneously means something and seemingly little at all--especially if the image of 20-minute-long Mellotron ramblings by Keith Emerson are kept in mind. But their debut EP Entertainica, name and songtitles like "Time and Energy-Mangled Soul" and "Intomaidet" aside, is short, understated and tends to reflect the kind of gentle experimentation that's followed in the wake of 21st century bedroom experimenters more apt to play Kid A than Love Beach.
What's especially engaging about Entertainica lies in Rios's singing, a swooning falsetto that pushes the Radiohead comparison further but avoids the lazy smarm that so many bands latched onto in Thom Yorke's wake. Songs like "Time and Energy" itself, in its easy tempo shifting and feeling of on-the-spot performance, showcase a light, free feeling that crops up throughout. It's not lost in melancholy even as it stays contemplative and considered, with a song like "Means to an End" immediately settling into a sweet, easy ramble of swift drumming and piano-led grace. "Bad Form" goes for a full-on disco strut and punch, Rios's wordless backing singing swirling around his lead turn like a strange ghost
If anything, more than once Time and Energy calls to mind the underrated--and all too obscure--Butterfly Child, a UK act from the early nineties that eschewed prevailing trends for a winningly sung, often sonically cryptic mix of everything from understated keyboard led songs to harsher grinding noise, content in its own hermetic universe. If Time and Energy aren't yet as strong or distinct as that band are, there's a sense of testing potential boundaries here that could reward more attention as the duo chooses to continue on.