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All My Everybody EP

[Self-released; 2013]

By ; February 6, 2013 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Ablebody is the hazy dream pop nom de plume of Christoph Hochheim. If any of The Depreciation Guild or The Pains of Being Pure at Heart albums ever found their way into your musical rotation, you’ll have a good idea of what his debut, the five-song All My Everybody EP, sounds like—though he does give a bit more preference to the nostalgia-tinged theatrics of artists like Wild Nothing and DIIV than he does to any incidental indie rock tendencies. Though he is a guitarist by trade, Hochheim seems to have an almost preternatural ability to manipulate synthetic sounds and textures. He’s been delving into the heavily wired processes of electronic music for a few years now and has finally decided to give Ablebody its own space by saying goodbye to any tenure he may have had in another band. Manning the boards himself on All My Everybody, the music ripples and vibrates with an internalized energy that seems a logical extension of his past work. Brandishing a hesitant pop bravado within the confines of multi-tiered electronic production, he shows that there is room to grow in what has already become a fairly saturated genre.

Mixing the organic and artificial, the songs here display an unnerving ability to slip beneath even the most jaded music fan’s guard and are able to reach that inner Cocteau Twins obsession (we all have it, right?), and they gleefully exploit those very specific musical pleasure points. “Sally Hot Jazz,” both the opening track and lead single, wastes no time before diving headfirst into Hochheim’s obvious influences like Slowdive and Pale Saints–basically any late 80’s 4AD artists would work here. But don’t let the starry-eyed vocals and ample use of reverb fool you. Ablebody isn’t merely the sum of its forebears. Tracks like “”Quick & Painless” and “Phantasy,” while still locked into a certain set of musical guidelines, never feel overtly in debt to any one band or influence. The slow synth build of “Quick & Painless” gradually fades together with heavily echoed vocals that seem just on the edge of our periphery and manages to impress despite its casual progression and easy-going melody. “Phantasy” builds momentum out of snatches of jittery synths and a propulsive drum beat that bears more than a slight likeness to something that might have been ripped straight from Boys Don’t Cry or even Wish–just make sure that Robert Smith was involved somehow and you’re good to go.

“No Room For I” is no less successful, if a bit on the slight side. All the pieces fit together fine and the song feels about as authentic as you could hope for, but there does seem to be something missing. The song isn’t bad, or even particularly weak. It’s just the only track here that feels completely tied to its influences, for better or worse. Other tracks sneak subtle hints of Hochheim’s own personality into the music, and the EP benefits greatly from these personal touches. In fact, the deeper and murkier that these songs get, the more insular and interesting things get.  But it’s his cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Sister Marie” that really elevates the whole group of songs past their simple bedroom beginnings. The gentle echo of his voice and a plaintive mixture of synths and plucked strings recalls Nilsson at his heartbreaking best.

All My Everybody displays a strangely refined temperament and with it an ability to understand the techniques behind the music, not merely the capability to replicate the sounds of other like-minded artists. It will be interesting to see if Hochheim sticks to the formula that worked so well for him here or if he’ll push his music even further inward, away from the bright lights of mainstream Mazzy Star accolytes and more toward the internal recesses of his own personality. He’s proven that the genre can indeed tread new ground. And by having a firm understanding of the underlying structure inherent to this kind of opaque production work, Hochheim and the listener come to realize that this strain of warbling pop that Ablebody so adeptly mines can move the head as well as the heart.



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