Run_Return: Sum of an Abstract

Run_Return's last collection, the superb Metro North, appeared in late 2005 but, instead of issuing an album of new material, the Northern California trio of Kevin Dineen, Tommy Fugelsang, and Raj Ojha appears to be in limbo with one of its members having departed. In place of a new album, then, we get a reissue of the group's little-known, self-released debut Sum of an Abstract with three bonus tracks added to sweeten the deal.

The move may disappoint fans eager for the band's next step but, taken on its own terms, the repress is a solid enough collection that often sounds like a blueprint for Metro North. Like that album, Sum of an Abstract balances laid-back acoustic songs (the lovely, warm “Thoughts Broken By Footseps”) with punchy, typically electronically enhanced post-rock throwdowns. Electronic, experimental, and ambient moments also surface during the fifty-three minute set: “Wake Up Sex” entices with its combination of alluring melodic gleam and crisp electro-funk beats, while the more experimentally-inclined “Genius Chilly” layers stuttering voice edits over a skittish funk groove. The bonus tracks generally set aside post-rock for other styles: a mellotron-like front line lends “Jyggawhom” a slightly proggy vibe, “Team Action” is a Proem-styled IDM vignette, and “Yah Chilly” is an electro-funk exercise that includes a moog synth part that would make Keith Emerson salivate.

What ultimately separates Run_Return from your average post-rock outfit is the melodic strength of the band's material, something heard to full effect in compositions like “Airlanes,” where a signature vibraphone theme rings out over a rambunctious and slightly glitchified, drum-heavy base, and in the exuberant “Tributary.” Nevertheless, Sum of an Abstract is a stop-gap so here's hoping Run_Return resolves its personnel issues sooner than later so we can read the next chapter in the group's story.

July 2007