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True Primes - We Have Won

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Artist: True Primes

Album: We Have Won

Label: Locust

Review date: Feb. 7, 2007

There is an argument to be made that there are two predominant ways to approach the creation of experimental/noise music. One is more cerebral; it maintains a certain precision and relies on theoretical concepts. The other turns to a more groovy-hate-fuck vibe and, while certainly indebted to avant-garde theories, tends to place the cathartic over the composed. True Primes, the Brooklyn duo of Rolyn Hu and Che Chen explore a third option. The duo’s debut EP on Locust, We Have Won, is built on skittering drum patterns and warped rhythms - burnt electronic bursts, Ono-inspired ecstatic bleats, and perhaps just a hint of folk song. And though True Primes' general approach to making music positions them as an act more interested in the aural fringe than conventional pop songs, there's a delightfully amateurish quality to the proceedings, as if the musical tenants of the avant-garde are as legitimate a source of insouciant inspiration as yr average Ramones cover. The result is obviously quite different, but the intent feels the same: Let's bash out some "songs," 'cuz there's nothing better to do. The lo-fi tone here only enhances the effect.

With that said, We Have Won is considerably tamer than many other acts working in the same arena. This is still a ways away from, say, Magik Markers. Nothing ever gets too out of control; the noisiest aspects of the EP are comparatively quaint when considering the alternatives. While there is catharsis to be had here, it's relatively reserved -- definitely not in the service of an aural curb stomp or transcendental psychedelicism.

The songs possess an odd, undeniable beauty, though. They’re far from pop-song pretty (or pop-song smart for that matter), but by album’s end, one feels a distinct, almost unsettling warmth in the music. That the album is book-ended by songs called “We Have Won” certainly contribute to the aura. The lyrics are too vague and indecipherable to conjure any specific images or ideas, but hope and triumph remain an option. Triumph over what? Hope for whom? It’s tough to say, but it had me hummin’.

By Nate Knaebel

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