*by Maria (Mouv) Kouvarou
**for Greek click here
On the 28th of February, Abettor released their much-anticipated debut album, Rinse & Repeat. They presented their work at a fairly crowded Savino Live, before an audience that knew they were in for something good, and surely enough, something good they received. Before setting down to write these lines, I was unsure as to whether I was to focus on the album or the gig, but after having played Rinse & Repeat on… repeat since its release, the answer became ever clearer to me.
So here it is, my modest review for Abettor’s Rinse and Repeat, with reference to its 10 songs:
1. Third Hit
4. White Line Fever
8. Cut and Dried
9. Rinse and Repeat
10. Delicate Species
The total duration of the album is roughly an hour. I don’t know if writing this commentary would have required longer than that, but, as a personal bet, before typing my first word, I pressed play again (oh, the excuses we make) and resolved to finish writing before the final harmonics of “Delicate Species” dissolve in the air. Which means that I am going to make this commentary short, concise and spontaneous. Basically, what I would like to do is share my overall feeling as an appreciative informed listener, avoiding any cliché technicalities. In other words, I am going to speak in qualities rather than in genres (at least, not much in genres).
After all, Abettor themselves have described their vision as one for “creating original music”. And this is what they do in Rinse & Repeat, transfiguring their many and varied influences in a comprehensive magma that evades the clumsiness and clutter that we often find in other bands who claim to be pluralistically influenced. In their musical pot, Abettor have thrown elements of alternative rock and, even, metal, with electronic music and trip-hop. They spiced it up with an injection of post-modern hip-hop and quenched it with their firm grasp of what progressive is all about.
Surely, in the course of the album, one can hear glimpses reminiscing of such behemoths like Tool, or Portishead, or Radiohead, or Deftones (“Delicate Species”, for instance, sounds quite Defton-ian in my ears) and so on, but all these influences do not hold central stage. In fact, Rinse & Repeat, although standing firmly as part of what I like to describe as the meta-rock continuum, it at the same time stands firmly independently. It is the album of a current-age band with its own identity. An identity created through osmotic assimilation of the plural influences of the five members who, when merged together as Abettor, are but a solid entity. This approach, in itself a proof that rock evolves and will continue to evolve, is what allows a band from a small city in Cyprus to create an album that is up to high international standards and which can, if it escapes the confining boundaries of our scene, put Larnaca on the musical map.
From the first sounds of “Third Hit” to the last note of “Delicate Species” expect to find well-studied song structures, layered in skilled arrangement – each instrument, samples included, makes the contribution called for to create an album that actually flows. It goes without question that Abettor is consisted of skillful musicians of the talented and well-trained (and even a bit geek-y) type. The voice, despite being the communicator of the semantic content of the lyrics, blends in with the overall sound, as if Manolis’ timbre, range and spotless performance is to Abettor that extra instrument that makes the recipe complete.
Although with each hearing of the album I find it harder to become a “partisan” of this song or the other, I will throw here a couple of favourites, just for the sake of it. My top personal favourite (for the time being) is “Flatline”, not only for concisely bridging the band’s exclusive influences in a forward way, but also for putting Manolis’ exceptional approach on lyric-writing, albeit evident throughout the album, at the spotlight. Another favourite is “Stringless”, even more so for its second half section, an almost apocalyptic dystopian use of spoken samples over a heavy carpet, which might be said to evoke in sound what the artwork evokes in image.
Speaking of the artwork, it needs to be pointed out that the album illustration was created by Solomon Moustakas, while the album setup and design was conducted by Abettor bassist, Pavlos Papadopoulos. And since we are dropping names, let’s take it all the way. Rinse & Repeat was recorded, mixed and produced by Andreas Matheou (guitars/samples) at Hot Soap Studios, Larnaca and was mastered by Bari Hadjikyriacou. All tracks were written, arranged and performed by the band, while the lyrics were written by Manolis Manoli (vocals/samples). The 8th song, “Cut and Dried”, features guest Nicolas Melis on synths.
As I am not one to support numeric ratings and gradings, you shall find no number of stars here, but by what is written above you can easily work out the math. And just for that extra bonus, allow me to add the fact that this CD comes with an actual leaflet displaying the lyrics (Manolis, if you read this, I’d suggest you carry it around as your first publication as a wordsmith as well).
All in all, from beginning to end, from the wrap to the core, from image to sound, the album dwells in sophistication and it serves as a proof that hard-work and commitment to originality are better served slow-cooked. We have waited for Abettor’s debut album for quite a while now (their EP was released in 2016!) and it was a wait worth enduring, for the result spells out maturity. A maturity we wish not to rinse, but we definitely wish to repeat!
P.S.: In case you wonder, yes, I am within my deadline, with “Rinse and repeat” (song no.9) just having finished, which leaves me time enough for a few more additions. Here we go… Abettor are:
Manolis Manoli (vocals/samples)
Andreas Matheou (guitars/samples)
Euripides Karaolis (guitars)
Pavlos Papadopoulos (bass)
Julien Koukkides (drums/percussions)