Centre: Another Year
Square Root

Centre: L'Enfant Coma
Square Root

Another Year and L'Enfant Coma spread a wildly diverse collection of material by Centre (aka Chad McKinney) across two EPs. Though the first is said to focus on digital post-punk and the other melancholy guitar ambiance, in truth the lines between the EPs blur, rendering them more cohesive and complementary overall than it might appear on paper. That's because the eight tracks that compose the EPs (the first new Centre output in four years) are a stylistically wide-ranging bunch, with ambient, post-punk, drone, shoegaze, and electro all emerging over the course of thirty-six minutes.

Minimal, dark, and heavy on synthesizer, “Alternating Cord” opens Another Year in drone mode before the entirely different “Take It or Leave It” makes its entrance dressed in full Joy Division garb with McKinney 's vocal buried in a swollen, hot-wired mass of burning synthesizers and guitars, pulsating machine beats, and goth-punk atmosphere. Striking too though subtler by comparison, “15 Minutes On” tacks quietly euphoric, shoegaze-styled electric guitar soloing onto a stripped-down electro swing, while the EP's concluding tracks, “Modular (passerby)” and “We Were Late” (“15 Minutes On” re-visited) perpetuate Centre's preoccupation with electric guitar atmospherics and electronic pulses. The wholly instrumental second EP shifts the focus to echoing drum machine beats and hazy guitar atmospherics in its three tracks (the third an ambient drone re-work of the title track): “L'Enfant Coma” works guitar washes and dubbed-out drum treatments into an aggressive dreamscape while “Depth Curves & Soundings” layers a brooding bell-toned theme over an insistently-grinding industrial groove. If there's a common denominator to the EPs, it's McKinney's electric guitar playing and, to a lesser degree, a rather skewed “pop” sensibility that inflames the more song-oriented tracks.

July 2009