This Devastating Map

Helvetia

Joyful Noise Recordings, 2020

http://helvetia.bandcamp.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/16/2020

An outfit started in 2005 by Jason Albertini, who is also in Duster and was recently the bass player for Built To Spill, Helvetia has always been a revolving door of musicians playing alongside Albertini. These days, that includes Steve Gere and Samantha Stidham as Albertini is now a Portland, Oregon resident, which is where he recorded this ninth Helvetia record.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Devastating Map” starts the listen, and it's an adventurous beginning where crisp percussion meets warm guitars in the experimental lo-fi setting that touches on psychedelic tendencies, too. The following tracks, “Inverted” and “Reaktor,” follow a somewhat similar course, where the former moves languidly with fuzzy, spacey ideas and the latter jangles a bit with talk/singing at a quick pace.

“Car Crash,” the highlight of the first half, then moves swiftly with acoustic guitar, pounding drums, and plenty of aberrant manipulation in its brief yet triumphant chaos.

Back half standouts include the dreamy “Love Me,” as well as the off-kilter, eccentric surf rock tendencies of the warbly “We Are Reels.” Near the end, “Those Eyes” builds into a squealing, sonically challenging mashing of noise and melody, and the piano friendly “Long Beach” exits the listen with a welcomed surprise of more straight forward song craft.

Albertini's vision of pop is certainly atypical as he populates This Devastating Map with bizarre guitar noises, unique chord progressions, and basically unidentifiable genre mashing that brings in traces of his full band work with Duster and Built To Spill. Those with a very careful ear might locate similarities to the early days of Modest Mouse and Elliott Smith, too. 

The Pacific Northwest isn't short on unconventional music these days, and Helvetia is certainly an experience that those with a taste for the adventurous task of home recording will appreciate and admire.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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