Review: Merz – No Compass Will Find Home
Published on January 14th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
No Compass Will Find Home, the fourth album from Londoner Conrad Lambert, was apparently recorded in a laboratory once used by Albert Einstein. This might help explain the cerebral nature of these ten tracks, produced alongside ‘found sounds’ wizard Matthew Herbert, but all in all the record lacks the sense of fun, love and mischief that characterised some of the great man’s greatest quotes.
One Einstein quote in particular – “technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal” – could almost be toned down and applied to Merz here. Sure, the melding of minor-key, verging-on-Jeff-Buckley guitar pop with heaving, squelching electronica makes for some fantastic-sounding results and is more commendable an attempt at crossover than the reams of bands who’d “just slap a beat on it”…but as the album wears on, the moody, reverb-drenched atmospherics feel increasingly like a facade, a compensation for the lack of character and memorable songwriting. It gets boring, basically.
There’s something quite Animal Collective-y about the delivery of the title phrases on “Arrows” and “Toys” – that is, single syllables are made to go a long way – and this is as close as No Compass Will Find Home comes to taking up residence in the ol’ cerebral cortex, along with the refrain of “Credo, giving life meaning” from “Credo”. “Eudaimonia” rides out on some rather pounding psych-rave reminiscent of the sadly missed FC Kahuna but too much of the LP passes by uneventfully, while the lines “A fallen god is amongst them / Pale, asleep and handsome / Such a strange apparition / Where did he come from?” from “Our Airman Lost” is an outright yellow card offence. The Muse-y synth arpeggios of “The Hunting Owl”, arguably a straight red and a three-match ban.
No Compass Will Find Home is fiery-bellied and relatively imaginative, but the relentless uniformity of mood reduces its impact and sees it run out of steam well before the end. Still, its aesthetics point the way forward for some of the more lumpen purveyors of ‘crossover’ out there.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!
No Compass Will Find Home is out now on Accidental. For more information, please visit www.merz.co.uk