The liner notes of Aspects of Physics new album Systems of Social Recalibration begin by defining an experiment. They say an experiment is "a chance to posit established truths in order to uncover less obvious or hidden ones." AoP then go on to pose a series of questions. The most important, in my opinion, asks "Is the role of music and sound purely for entertainment or is it a tool with which the human race can use to further progress itself as a whole?" It was with these two thoughts in mind that I began listening to Systems of Social Recalibration. What I found is a very challenging album that is an experiment in every essence of the word. This two-piece band strives to bring meaning and deep emotion to the electronic genre, which too often feels somewhat soulless.
The opening track "Pulse Width" is a wonderful example of what AoP is capable of. The track opens with a synth pulses and a flickering electronic beat that is almost inaudible. As this continues, a lone guitar enters playing a simple collection of chords that give a melancholy feeling to the track. As the electronics increase in volume, the frantic nature of the piece builds. This track spills directly into the highlight of the album "Level 4.2" a 17-minute epic that somehow doesn't seem to grow tiring, even after repeated listening. This track is built on the same model as the prior track, though the electronics are not as hectic. Instead, the track slowly plods along with the synthesized and guitar melodies weaving together through use of dynamics. The song flows so well that it isn't until near the end of the track that you realize that AoP have introduced many new sounds and melodies. Unfortunately, after these 2 near perfect tracks, AoP follows with a few experiments that fail. "S. Id" is a wholly electronic mess that sounds like a weak attempt to build some sort of 80's synth meets Mouse on Mars track. "Reson" is a minimalist track that, despite the guitar beauty, doesn't really go anywhere. Of the last 5 tracks, "Entrainment" is the best. A heavily distorted synthesized funeral dirge booms, shaking the room, while sampled speaking clamors in the background and a small bleeping loop struggles to rise from beneath the noise. Overall, this album succeeds more than it fails. I think that with this album, Aspects of Physics answer the question posed in their liner notes. This may sound pretentious but this music is more than just entertainment, and though there are no words, there is a melancholy vibe and a desperation that seems to in ways reflect the society we live in today.
-- Paul Strande