Alto! LP3 on LP + Download
Portland, OR trio Alto! was formed in 2011 by guitarist Derek Monypeny alongside drummers Kyle Emory and Steven Stone, who over the course of five years have evolved into a fierce and explorative ensemble on the Portland scene. Having self-released two eponymous full length albums on Monypeny's Raheem Records in 2012 and 2014, Trouble In Mind presents their third album, the appropriately titled LP 3.
"Controlled chaos" might be a good way to describe the sound of Alto! - the band is deft at the push and pull of sound and fury, with the ability to nimbly move from sublime and spellbinding reveries to concentrated blasts of ferocious six-string and percussive cacophany. LP 3 starts of with the hypnotic percussion and prayer bell chimes of "Piece Fourteen," before a whistle loudly sounds the alarm and the band lurches into a full on motorik rhythmic pulse with stabbing synth lines, laser gun blasts and drum patterns inspired by West African polyrhythms, skeletal and danceable.
"Piece Twelve" closes out side one beginning with a meditative guitar devotional, lulling the listener into a trance-like state, before pummeling them head-long with fiery Iommi-worshipping heaviness. "Piece Sixteen-Fifteen" occupies all of side two, beginning with a pensive hum and marching drum paradiddles that swells into a racket of synth squeals and drones before morphing into a mesmerizing form of trance music filtered through 20th century noise rock.
Past albums have seen Monypeny's guitar leading the fracas, and it's no surprise why; his style is equal parts influenced by the sunbaked deserts of Phoenix and the Bishop Bros (Alan & Richard - whose 'Freak of Araby' ensemble Monypemy was a member of) as well as the swirling sands of the Middle East and guitarists like Omar Khorshid and Bombino, but the real stars of LP 3 are drummers Emory & Stone, who fuse together into an unshakable elemental pulse, dancing around each other in dizzying and danceable polyrhythms.