Portland, OR trio Alto! was formed in 2011 by guitarist Derek Monypeny alongside drummers Kyle Emory & Steven Stone, who over the course of five years have evolved into a fierce and explorative ensemble on the Portland scene. Having self-released two eponymous full length albums on Monypeny’s Raheem Records in 2012 and 2014, Trouble In Mind presents their third album, the appropriately titled “LP 3”
“Controlled chaos” might be a good way to describe the sound of Alto! - the band is deft at the push & pull of sound & fury, with the ability to nimbly move from sublime & spellbinding reveries to concentrated blasts of ferocious six-string & percussive cacophany. “LP 3” starts of with the hypnotic percussion & prayer bell chimes of “Piece Fourteen”, before a whistle loudly sounds the alarm & the band lurches into a full on motorik rhythmic pulse with stabbing synth lines, laser gun blasts and drum patterns inspired by West African polyrhythms, skeletal & danceable. “Piece Twelve” closes out side one beginning with a meditative guitar devotional, lulling the listener into a trance-like state, before pummelling them head-long with fiery Iommi-worshipping heaviness. “Piece Sixteen-Fifteen” occupys all of side two, beginning with a pensive hum & marching drum paradiddles that swells into a racket of synth squeals & drones before morphing into a mezmerizing form of trance music filtered through 20th century noise rock. Past albums have seen Monypeny’s guitar leading the fracas, & it’s no surprise why; his style is equal parts influenced by the sunbaked deserts of Phoenix & the Bishop Bros (Alan & Richard - whose ‘Freak of Araby’ ensemble Monypemy was a member of) as well as the swirling sands of the Middle East & guitarists like Omar Khorshid & Bombino, but the real stars of “LP 3” are drummers Emory & Stone, who fuse together into an unshakeable elemental pulse, dancing around each other in dizzying & danceable polyrhythms.
“LP 3” was mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk (Grouper / Golden Retriever) at Stereophonic Mastering, with artwork by band member Steven Stone. The vinyl is pressed on black vinyl & includes a download code.
RIYL: Sun City Girls, Congotronics, Group Doueh, Oneida, Horse Lords, Bombino