Amplifier - The Astronaut Dismantles HAL (Steamhammer)
UK release date: 17 October 2005
With a title like that you would perhaps correctly guess that Amplifier like to set their stall out early with grand gestures. HAL, of course, was the malfunctioning computer in Kubrick's Space Odyssey, and as this mini-album/EP title suggests, Amplifier are all about kicking computers squarely in the nuts.
They may well be from Manchester, but the spectre of the Madchester sound is nowhere to be found. Like fellow Mancs Oceansize, Amplifier prefer to create vast caverns of noise with little more than a guitar and a grounding in the noble art of prog-rock. Considering that there are only three members in the band, the depth to these songs is phenomenal. There's the slowly creeping dirge of opening track Continuum, which starts off like a space age Mogwai and develops into a thundering beast reminiscent of The God Machine when they were at the height of their powers.
Into the Space Age continues to impress with a stripped down trade off between guitars and drums before building into an epic drenched in perfect vocals and ideas. Everyday Combat changes pace constantly darting backwards and forwards in a perfectly controlled but lunatic lurch; it's an exhilarating ride. For Marcia is a mile away from being a rock song, but still has the audacity to sound like it was recorded in a cavern. No one, it seems, does huge quite like Amplifier.
When Amplifier rock out they do so without sounding at all clichéd. Their take on rock is to stuff it into a shuttle and head for the stars and to keep the auto-pilot switched off. That way they can continue to explore the outer reaches, because at the moment, that is what they are doing.