[sic] Magazine

Zammuto – Anchor

Following the seemingly troubled dissolution of The Books, Anchor sees Nick Zammuto arrive at a place of solace, both personally and artistically. In the short 2012 documentary The Shape of Things to Come, Zammuto appears happily married with three kids, questing and creative in the studio with his new band, and clearly thankful he’s able to continue to earn a living from music despite the radical changes in the industry. The album’s title references the things that keep him grounded and able to live a life that he loves – family, friends, a home studio (depicted on the cover), and a large enough fan base that he can still tour to packed rooms.

This sense of satisfaction has sparked off some inspiring music, as Anchor yields several of Nick Zammuto’s most rewarding and addictive songs to date. Opener ‘Good Graces’ is bookended by moments of startling beauty: yearning pedalled tones emerge from garbled transmissions at its start, while its conclusion sees an icy, ethereal vocal turn from Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit that raises goosebumps. Single ‘Great Equator’ is as musically restless as it is beautiful, boasting a bizarre rhythmic loop created from scratched vinyl, and a winning earworm of a guitar riff. The showstopping ‘Sinker’ juxtaposes wincingly loud drums worthy of The Flaming Lips’ Stephen Drozd against achingly plaintive guitar swells. During these tracks I feel effusive about Anchor’s worth.

Elsewhere there’s plenty of virtuosity on display – songs ride in on scattershot organ and bass melodies (‘Hegemony’, ‘Need Some Sun’), or drift past in mists of hazy electronica (‘Henry Lee’, ‘Stop Counting’, ‘Your Time’). Nothing feels out of place, all bases are covered, and it’s pretty damn likable. So why do I find myself losing interest with repeat plays?

Perhaps the clue lies in the video to ‘IO’, in which Zammuto and his friends launch personal belongings from a homemade catapult, smashing them to smithereens – including the PC that Zammuto used to make the notoriously troubled final Books album The Way Out. While I don’t believe that an artist necessarily has to suffer in order to create great art, it can lend music an urgency and edge that this record lacks. In casting aside past grievances and reaching a place of personal satisfaction, I wonder if Nick Zammuto has sacrificed the necessary emotional heft to match this music’s inventive production and agile melodies?

Zammuto Official Web Page

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