Financial constraints lead Bloomington duo Stagnant Pools to record their debut album Temporary Room in one day with a friend at a local studio and mix it all back home in a bedroom. As a tale of DIY today it is charming, but as an attempt at Factory and Creation inspired ambient art-rock it's a shame, as almost all forty minutes of maxed out aggressive fuzz suffer negatively as a result.
It is difficult to hear past the sloppy performances. Beats are dropped and time shifts too regularly. The often-unbalanced relationship between the rippling waves of distortion and the thin snap and pop of the dead-room sounding drums gets in the way of the songs. The thuds and thumps need more boom and roundness and the overall dynamics need sanding off and smoothing out.
The duo's biggest strengths lie in Bryan Enas' vocal performances. First single 'Dead Sailor' is a moody concoction of Sonic Youth sounding dredge topped with Julian Casablancas-esque half-spoken delivery. "You think I'm a failure/I'm your dead sailor," a glum and composed Bryan mutters, hooking you in. 'Frozen' brings a welcome shift in dynamics with Bryan urging "Don't fall down/I'm telling you again" over a sparse and brooding verse.
'Consistency' is the finest track on the record, encapsulating the best qualities of the duo's overall sound; swarming guitars, driving drums, touches of tasteful and fragmented vocals. It also defines their sound conceptually. "Maintain, Maintain Consistency" Bryan orders in the chorus, beckoning the continuation of the status quo. Temporary Room is essentially one idea repeated twelve times. We are consistently hit with slabs of thick ambiance and thrust forward by hit-as-hard-as-you-can rock drums. Songs blend and mesh together to form a consistent, barely shifting noisy narrative. It is easy to forget where you are.
Stagnant Pools draw from good sources and replicate them pretty well, albeit without any real stamp of originality. They must focus on bringing something new to the table. Cut away the slack and spend a little more time in the studio. With a little luck, this record will allow them to do that next time round, and if considered and laboured over, I have no doubt there is something great between them, just waiting to be drawn out.