I finally got a find! After 7 or so months of writing for other Curators, ole’ workhorse Layla Marino has finally been recognized as having decent enough taste to writer her own find. Oddly, Slack Armada is literally the last artist I expected to be recognized for, but I’ll take it!

“More lyricless experimental electronica? Really?” Is what you may be saying when first listening to Slack Armada, a new solo project by James Hrabak. Ok, hear me out though; this is very different from your Ratatats and M83s (I know M83 has the occasional verse and hook, but it’s with a French accent so it doesn’t count). 

Each track on the EP seems to embody a number of different styles, but something you can catch in every song is actual vintage equipment. Yes, I’m talking tube amps, 808s, maybe even a Moog. Also because there are no lyrics or vocals, and the movement of each track as its own piece depends solely on the storyboard of the music and the changes in pitch. We’re thus looking a little more at something like Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra, but a little more choppy and a little more modern. I wouldn’t say it goes as far as Tim Hecker into noise music, but there’s definitely an experimental bent, and if that means messing around with analog equipment, I say more power to the dude.

The EP, posted and downloadable for the price of your choice on the Slack Armada Bandcamp page, opens with "Rebirth," a track which Hrabak has said in interviews signifies the rebirth of his musical sensibilities into a more ambient space. This track also contains electric guitars and analog-timbred drums which brings it to an unexpected conclusion. The second song, "Your Majesty," is firmly rooted in 80s influence, and "Looper" is almost all rock guitar and conventional drums, spliced together to create an electronic track, and show the influence 90s grunge bands like Helmet also have over Hrabak's work. The EP closes with "Escape Velocity," which seems like a combination of all the above-mentioned styles, and is a perfect end to the musical history journey the EP has taken its audience on, as it swells and falls, swells again and then eventually fades into one warbling chord, much as the EP began.

The Slack Armada EP is also available to stream on Slack Armada's Soundcloud Page. Listeners can also download the EP or favorite tracks on itunes. If you’re interested in interesting interest pieces, give it a try. It’s actually kind of a break from the other vocals-free stuff you hear nowadays.

slack armada

About Layla Marino

Layla Marino is a music and street art blogger with 17 years in the industry. She focuses exclusively on underground music, art, and culture, and loves working with BitCandy to find and bring new artists to a wider audience.