From hyper-active, electro space-pop to dreamy pop rock, this release is completely absorbing. It's so well crafted, a non-stop tour of great beats and grooves, with plenty of uptempo stuff to keep you from dosing at the wheel during the more dreamy stuff. At times it reminds me of the Stone Roses or Luna, but other songs have frantic beats more along the lines of drum and bass or techno. It's an electronic rock masterpiece with a mix of male and female vocals, sung accordingly with the tempo of the music. This album will make you speed when driving. (CM)


Album of the Week: The Emerald Down, Aquarium EP; A Study in Her, Auto-Amputation

Not in Oxford (OX4, for some of you), not in Reading, not anywhere in the UK, in fact, but in Toledo, Ohio, is the where the new shoegazing (Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, et al) movement lives, courtesy of T-Town record label Honest in Secret, well-proven Ohio s’gazers The Emerald Down, and A Study in Her (whose members are situated in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Maryland, Bloomington, Boston, DC, and New Haven – kind of like us, in that way).

A Study in Her – a collective or band or something (nobody told us) – has released something quite brilliant in Auto-Amputation, an album that spans about 4,000 songwriting genres, all of which we will place, very closed-mindedly into the category of ‘shoegazing.’ After all, there’s a heavy, heady influence of MBV all over it. And Slowdive…even Chapterhouse! Of course, to be totally honest here, Chapterhouse never quite got this good: Sorry. All of these statements are, unfortunately, too limiting, since A Study in Her eases quite often into more experimental electro (read: Prima Donnas, Suicide) as well. And with a healthy sense of humor too. A Study in Her: amorphous, but very engaging. And it sounds like they probably don’t really care what we think about it, either.

PLUG IN MUSIC (March 2004)
Each track on A Study In Her’s “Auto-Amputation” is like a grab bag. From the vocals (which are performed by both men and women) to the mood (upbeat or gentle) to the style (indie rock or electronic rock), you do not know what to expect on the next song.

With a light and poppy indie rock sound, “Bodies and Bodies” opens the album and is a song by A Study In Her mastermind Constantine Valenzuela Nakassis. Following the gentle first track, “Giant Robot” jerks you awake with its aggressive style of electronic twinkling and rapid programmed drumbeats. The chance in pace was momentary, at least, as “It’s All Alright” and “The Tension of Non-touching” returning to the gentle guitar rock sound. Relying again on fast drumbeats which slow for vocals, “‘Hybrid Energy’” has a fuzzy and spacey sound that is mixes the indie rock with electronic. Engaging and catchy “Stuttering and Simply Stopping” is a mid tempo guitar rock driven song with melodic vocals. Using programmed drumbeats heavily, “XL” is the album’s most electronic-oriented song with vocal mixing. The song is catchy and infectious with its danceable rhythm and memorable lyrics like “We know what the people are talking about, singing about, shouting about.” “He Will Write the Histories of Estrangement” has an upbeat poppy sound while the stripped down “Instruction From Her Hero, a Young Woman on Guitar” focuses on wonderfully melodic female vocals. More straightforward electronic and relying heavily on scratching and mixing “An Outline of an Order (44+60 Redux)” offers an interesting and unique interlude while “Unhindered and Unhinged” has a surprisingly feel good sound about it with an upbeat and poppy melody and fuzzy guitars. “Auto-Amputation” closes, somewhat surprisingly, with an eerie but serious sounding instrumental.

A Study In Her’s album has a variety of sounds and songs, from gentle and poppy indie rock to quick paced dance. The variety is sometimes too much and the tracks make little sense in the way they are organized; perhaps two separate EPs would have been better. With that said, the range of sounds and emotions conveyed on the album has a flexible appeal – “Auto-Amputation” is not, necessarily, an album you have to be in the mood for; the mood of the songs finds you.

Grade: B