Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Devices in Shift Full

November 28, 2004

Band Name: Devices in Shift

Album Name: Velas Para La Enferma
Best element: Intense care and preparation of all aspects of the album.
Genre: Indie Rock

Website: http://www.devicesinshift.com

Label name: Ask an Enemy Records
Band e-mail: info@devicesinshift.com

If nothing else, Devices in Shift is unique. I have never heard anything quite like DiS- when I started to think they were an emo band, they sampled some random noise clips- when I started to think they were a rock band, they threw down a reggae-influenced break. And then on top of that, they throw in 17-41 second interludes that move the storyline along. Did I mention that all the vocals here are distorted?

Okay, so I just introduced a lot of material there- but that’s exactly what DiS does- Devices in Shift hits you with all guns blazing and never lets up. There’s two very, very in-depth parts to Velas Para La Enferma– the musical side and the lyrical storyline. Since this is a music mag, we’ll go for music first.

Like I said before, the boys of DiS leave out nothing, creating a self-indulgent monolith of an album that reads like a book and engages faster than most literary works. The best track here is the punchy “Slit Throat Syncopation”, which starts out on acoustic with some forlorn vocals before pouncing all over it with a double pedal riff, a distorted vocal clip that sounds enraged, and a weak guitar line- creating a very odd amalgam of sound. They drop to a verse, which is more normal, featuring straightforward drums, some spoken word clips, and cascading guitar licks. Okay, so it’s not really normal- I just said it’s more normal. They torch through the rest of the song, getting heavier and heavier, leaving the listener breathless.

“This Nail Needs Hammering” has a reggae influence to it- just try and imagine that: A chaotic emo-ish band funneled through Bob Marley. Anyway, they pull it off well, as the drums and bass work very well together, and the signature cascading reverb on the guitar creates an aura of organized chaos. The yelled vocals here are catharctic and empowering- I empathize. “Symphonic Liberal Disaster” is just outright freaky, as the swirling guitars mesh with odd radio samples in very strange ways. The pulsing bass doesn’t help much either- it feels like footsteps coming towards you.

And the rest follow in turn. Every song is a nuclear disaster- every song begs to be repeated. Every song is unique- every song is unexpected in its own way. It’s truly stunning.

The lyrics and artwork work together to form a theme- suicide, murder, and blood are heavy here. The lyrics- as best I can decipher them- follow a girl who has been gang-raped, as she goes through denial, hatred of the world, sleeplessness, and eventually self-hatred. She turns to cutting herself- the picture on the cover of the album is the girl drawing a line on her arm. She doesn’t die, even though the inside art shows the knife and some blood in a sink. No, she doesn’t die, because the picture on the back of the album is her with a bandage on her arm and traces of the line still visible. She goes nuts (“The Last Known Conformist”) and kills herself (The poignant yet destructive “Velas Para La Enferma” charts this). The inset art behind the CD shows a chalk outline of her body with candles placed around it.

All that is told in the first person- none of it is laid out plain for the listener. This is one of the best lyrical albums I’ve seen in a long time- it made me think, and think hard. I was truly impressed by the amount of care put into the lyrics.

If like intelligent hard music, you won’t get any better than “Velas Para La Enferma”. Devices in Shift has created a ridiculously good album as a debut- and I don’t know what other praise I can shower on this, otherwise I would. If you like emotional music at all, this is your album of the year. This is just insanely good.

-Stephen Carradini

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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