Perhaps the scenario went like this: the arms were tired from slashing away at guitars and drums whilst trying to make something in the post-rock vein sound half-decent. At some point they (and the persons they were attached to) realised that there are only four of them – the arms, that is – and the best way to make a decent sound is to have at least eight, and preferably eighteen Canadian arms making the music. So an alternative method was sought and the arms deferred to the brains who went, ‘Hang on, we can do most of this stuff using keyboards instead’, and a meeting was called to rally the arms and get the fingers on the case. When the ears heard the result, there was much rejoicing.
So it came to pass that the debut release for Tired Arms is a concise venture stemming from the idea of making music with the dynamics of post-rock but filling up the spaces where, say, a string quartet would go, with synth patches instead. Guitars are still used, mainly as the keening lead instrument during the crescendo bits, but it’s really only second track “Andy” that has the typical post-rock slow build and peak. Elsewhere, the music is built around drum machines and warm analogue keyboard loveliness with a calmer dynamic. It works very well, too; the late-night introspection of the sluggish “Ursa Minor” follows the short guitar diversion of “12:23” without any sense of a stylistic lurch from one genre to another. There’s a consistency in the atmosphere of the tracks which results in everything knitting together neatly.
To be honest, there’s little here that hasn’t been explored by a preceding generation of IDM-ers – I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one M83 album between the duo – but there is a real sense of freshness and new discovery in the music here that doesn’t exist on many albums any more. Because Evan Gildersleeve and Lawrence King have followed their own path since forming four years ago and have clearly tried and rejected numerous musical ideas, rather than just grabbing a couple of electronica albums off the shelf to copy. So Tired Arms works because it sounds like it has evolved of its own accord, rather than going through the motions of borrowing someone else’s stale ideas. This is the added vitality that elevates the EP above a crowd of other current electronic musicians; the sounds themselves might not be freshly-minted, but the attitude is and that’s the crucial difference. (Jeremy Bye)