Making their music with a self-induced rock madness caused by "the drinking of wine and fertility," this Athens-based band generates a quasi-mythical haze, tinged with garage rock and fuzz. The chords might be deceptively simple, but how they layer the constant feedback buzz will win you over.
The Noise Figures is all garage rock haze and easygoing punk-noise bliss.
The duo consists of drummer/vocalist George Nikas (Zebra Tracks) and guitarist Stamos Bamparis (Keyser Soze), two frontmen who wanted to take on a side project and blend their varied talents. By November, they put together a blues-infused fuzzy 4-track that garnered a good deal of underground attention, especially in Athens where there has been a resurgence in garage-kraut-pysch rock.
When the duo reconvened the following year, they evolved their sound with even more early punk and rock influences out of San Francisco, circa 1965. The lyrics match the mood, drawn from their life on the road and a relentless for living.
The self-titled debut opens with Black Caravan, a restless head-nod road song with a surf-rock underbelly and sharply sung punk vocal leanings. The lyrics are repetative and bleating — making the song feel like a record skip centered around the memory of a girl. It's the perfect introduction for the throwback Out Of Your Mind, which the band put out as a vid complete with subtitles.
The kaleidoscopic adventure captures the hypnotic flair of the band, albeit more 1990s than the rest of their sunburnt album. The next three tracks plow through a variety of sounds to prove the Noise Figures isn't willing to settle with a single direction.
They sweep through the West Coast lo-fi Rollin', make a garage rock slacker out of Bless The Flood, and add some Brit-blues heaviness on Turn Off The Lights. While other bands might falter with the fluctuations, the Noise Figures just takes it in stride as they create their own brand of skeletal DIY.
Never mind that much of it sounds flatly vintage. The Noise Figures derives its passion from drawing upon several decades in order to fulfill their introspective and observational meanderings about everything from mismatched shoes to burning beds. In doing so, they put you in a lull and then wake you up, over and over again.
The self-titled debut album deserves to be downloaded in entirety. The listenability of playing track after track back to back is what makes the lushly drawn album so enjoyable. Just as you think you have the band figured out, they reset the tempo and emotional slant with a slightly different direction.
If you are looking to pick a couple of tracks for a sampler, Out Of Your Mind is the better introduction while the slower droning Space Mountain creates a tripped out contemplation reminiscent of the dreamlike state of emergent sixties rock.
Tame The Knife is also worth a listen. The track titters on the promise and plague of domestic life. Meanwhile, Bones is eerily cryptic and the most psychedelic song on the album.
The Noise Figures Self-Titled Debut Titters 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
All in all, the Noise Figures is a side project with all the potential of turning permanent. It not only provides a great foreshadow for the band, but also proves the potential for Athens to emerge as a serious rock contributor in the years ahead. No one can knock that.
You can pick up the Noise Figures self-titled debut from Amazon or download the album from iTunes. The original EP, Turn Off The Lights, is harder to come by but still available on their Bandcamp page for two euros. You can also follow them on Facebook as they become one of the best new bands to watch in the new year.