Lymbyc Systym: New Varieties
Western Vinyl

If I say that New Varieties sounds very much like Lymbyc Systym's recent full-length Split Stones, it isn't meant as a criticism. This latest offering, a nineteen-minute, high-dazzle fusion of electronics, strings, guitars, drums, and synthesizers from the brothers Bell, upholds the consistently high quality of the album and at the same time perpetuates its effervescent spirit. If the latest release does sound largely indistinguishable from the earlier one, it might be explained by the fact that both were written and recorded at the same time. The siblings' established modus operandi hasn't changed either, with Jared living in Brooklyn and Michael in Phoenix and their collaboration transpiring long-distance. Yet while the two might be geographically separated, the tracks they produce, especially when characterized by such a dynamic live feel, convincingly create the illusion of musicians inhabiting a shared physical space and breathing the same air.

As if to reinforce the connection between the album and EP, the latter's opener “Opposing Bodies” literally picks up where Split Stones' closer “Scientific Romance” left off in using the same melody, and there's one additional connection that ties the EP's originals together: the lead melodies of all three originated from a single melody that the brothers chopped and reconfigured. “Opposing Bodies” sets the mark high with an infectious blend of wiry melodic patterns, prog-like synth lines, and a slamming drum groove; the amount of detail and activity the Bells pack into three minutes and forty-five seconds is amazing, to say the least, even if that's nothing unusual for a Lymbyc Systym production. Pitched at a slightly slower tempo, “Differential” nevertheless reveals itself to be as multi-layered and heavy-hitting as the opener, especially when the drums are as prominently featured in the mix as they are here. Another change-up occurs when raw guitar textures inhabit the forefront of the title track, though the group works stately keyboard figures and heavy drumming into the mix as well. Adding to the EP's appeal is a closing remix by Austin-based producer Botany that radically re-imagines “Opposing Bodies” as a woozy stream of trippy synth textures and burbling voices.

As multi-hued and vibrant as a typical Lymbyc Systym production is, it's ultimately the material's pop-inflected melodic quality that speaks most strongly on behalf of the project. Yet as satisfying a complement as New Varieties is to Split Stones, it does raise one question for the Bells, which is where to go next. Put simply, will the next collection hew to the style of these releases or revamp the formula in dramatic manner?

August 2016