Label: Carpark Release date: 28/03/11 Link: Official Website Oh Adventure, what happened to you? Before this new era of Lesser Known, you were somebody I could totally get down with. A paragon of combination 8-/16-bit dancey goodness that reeled and made giddy, something truly worthy of sharing half a disc with the venerable Dan Deacon. Now things have changed, oh how they have shifted. You see, readers, for how much I truly enjoyed and have come to solidify Adventure’s self-titled debut as one of those albums (the kind you just want to listen to) now some feeling of new anxiety creeps up while listening to Lesser Known. Is this the whirring mechanism of excitement or agitation? Or is it some insidious combination therein? For all the advances and forward thinking going on here, Adventure seems content with his new style of writing and achieves decidedly mixed results in the end. Alchemy doesn’t always produce gold the first time. In place of the nostalgic yet oddly forward thinking brand of music he was previously crafting, now we have music from the era of 8-bit. Where the sounds of Crystal Castles and Sinistar were are now the ‘verbed out air snares and chipper pads of Europe and Duran Duran. For god’s sake there are now falsetto vocals that are equally grating and infectious (cf. ‘Feels Like Heaven’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’), often repeating a song long mantra that never reaches the transcendent loftiness of a real chant no matter how many layers intone it. But I must admit that I hate feeling like I’m just endlessly ragging on this disc, because there are moments of true awesomeness hidden throughout this disc. Opener ‘Song 1’ almost recreates the older sound with a modernized retro-futurism approach to timbre while maintaining a fresh edge to the songwriting but just falls short due to a decided lack of true lead synth here. While older tracks like ‘Battle Cat’ and ‘Swamp Diamonds’ had buoyant synths commanding over the frenzy of blips here everything is relegated to the wash of a mix that the song becomes, a victim of its own surroundings. The aforementioned ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ manages to become one of the better songs thanks to a propulsive beat that carries well into the closing titular chorusgasm. Closely following that song as top contenders for hallmarks of this new phase is the one-two punch of ‘Relax the Mind’ and ‘Another World,’ tracks that miss the mark primarily due to the grating aspect of the vocals’ upper register (both head voice and true falsetto). By the time ‘Electric Eel’ drops (all seven minutes of it), the experience is near fatiguing, an uphill battle against the retro fetishism that mars and (for lack of a better phrase) fucks up so much music and production. Even with the catharsis of heavy noise that ‘Electric Eel’ brings, it’s nowhere near as engaging as his older work or as loud and enveloping as, say, an Infinite Body track (different genres, same execution). Even the gentle faux New Romanticism of ‘The Meadows’ cannot close out with a soft enough note to fully ease the soreness of pained ears. I have to commend Adventure for going out on a limb after taking a couple years off. Unfortunately he treads a bit too close near EAR PWR territory sometimes, but overall can be innocuous enough to dance to. I’d even go as far as to say that Lesser Known would work well in the context of a larger party mix given its respective peaks and valleys in both terms of songwriting and actual melodic and tempii based parameters. I even found myself enjoying some songs to their fullest sometimes, able to go beyond my own trepidation into the zone of pleasure. If nothing else, this can be seen as a transitional release or an experiment to test the waters of this project and for that I cannot fully say that this fails – because it doesn’t. It just doesn’t quite meet the standards I had for a second Adventure album, and that’s why a review is an opinion, just like the number below. Photobucket