Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach, the core duo behind Time and Energy, have been writing albums and songs together now for over a decade. Their sound—an amalgam of dirty guitar loops, crunchy keys, skittering drums, screeching guitar riffs and ghostly vocals— continues to be criminally underrated. After learning to master their sounds on record for their third album Open Channels, it is clear that they’ve resurfaced with even more to offer on their fourth album, The Supple.
From the cover art, to the mixing (done by Temo Molina of Flying Hand), to the cash they forked out for the one bedroom house they rented in the hills of Cazadero to record in for three weeks, the band’s latest album was a DIY effort. The plan to get out of town for this album did the band a lot of good. Rios remembers the recording scenery as “a big living room in a house atop a declining hill that, if you looked down the hill, you saw acres of thick, green forest. It was amazing.” He went on to recall that each day during the recording of The Supple, typically consisted of either playing music, cooking, or hiking.
The band agrees that the major reason why this album was released sort of abruptly in late April (on Spotify and Bandcamp) is because they already have a boatload of material ready to be stitched together for the next album. It’s baffling, commendable even, how they are able to continuously produce music. It sort of also explains how they are easily able to negate most conventional rules when it comes to recording or the barriers that would otherwise hinder most struggling bands. And that’s clearly one of the charms of The Supple: There are no rules.
Though a big chunk of the lyrics belted out by Rios’ demanding voice on the album are at times indecipherable; fans of the band know there’s always something to either be taken away or absorbed from his meditative-state-like lyrics. It is as though the mere sound of his words were meant to propel the songs with infectious delivery and gut-ramblings that serve as an overall adhesive in every track.
The sole instrumental track on the album, “People In The House,” opens up like a wilting cemetery rose, spilling out a wailing trumpet that’s reminiscent of Miles Davis during Bitches Brew and staccato acoustic guitar like John Frusciante’s solo heroin days. Roach remains the cognizant drummer, able to punch in all the right spaces. But he has also grown as a singer/songwriter, having produced three songs that made the album, including “The Tape Glows,” the most pop-ish track on the The Supple. With low-fi guitar and Beck-inspired vocals, it feels like the perfect soundtrack for walking down the street in sunglasses, eating soft-served ice cream on a summer day.
The darker side of the albums emotions are fleshed out on “Liquid Change,” with drums that slither along like an anaconda through a wicked labyrinth, followed closely by Rios’ rap-style lyrics and vocals that sound a lot like early Marshall Mathers: abrasive and unapologetic.
Both Rios and Roach are rocketing toward their thirties and still, their work has been met with little to no financial or famous avail. There are no record companies (big or small) knocking upon their door; no legions of fans seeking to mob them out in public. But the band have not let a lack of fame deter them from their craft or from creating new bounds that are unparalleled by any other band in Orange County. Although, their lack of money and the absence of a third member has lately rocked the boat.
“We’ve just been broke, dude, honestly.” said Roach. “Most of the songs [on The Supple] we can’t really play live because we gotta play [them] with someone else.”
Rios agrees, but to a further extent. While working as a cook at The Stockyard Sandwich Company and closing down for the night, he expressed this stressing need for a third member while scraping the burnt grease off the flat top grill. “If we get solid members and if we somehow get out of the whole looping fiasco […] because looping can drive you mad […] it kind of gets a little discouraging when you have four shows in a row and every time we have a show, something malfunctions, things break down […] I’m someone who likes to perform and kill it.”
Rios believes it could be tough for the band to continue moving forward with only two members and the mishaps. “If we don’t get a third member soon,” Rios says, “I think we’re just gonna have to stop, because we can’t continue playing live like this with just the two of us.”
Both members have said that there will be a fifth Time and Energy album, eventually. “The song[s] we’re doing right now is in the time signature of 5 and one that’s in a weird time signature of 7. So it’s kind of weird…so far.” Still, Rios believes that if this “weird” album, still in its embryonic state, is ever going to precede a sixth, he feels that an ad in Craigslist for a third member might be a good idea.
So, musicians of Orange County and beyond, the offer is now on the table: If you would like to join Santa Ana’s hardest working band with over four albums-worth of material under their belt and hunger to make a fifth, now is the time to act. At the very least you will learn what it’s like to produce produce produce, despite the world saying “Not Quite” while the vibrations in your sounds scream “Why Not?”