Review: The American Dollar – A Memory Stream

John Emanuele and Rich Cupolo formed The American Dollar a few years ago and ‘A Memory Stream’ is their third album in as many years. Their music is essentially post-rock but they have been able to shape their own identity with the use of layering techniques, an inspired choice of instruments and the fine art of tune-making.

The Slow Wait (Parts 1 and 2) ushers in The American Dollar sound. Although its powerful dynamics are entrenched in post-rock territory, there’s a lovely piano melody here, which is soon joined by the rich, church-like noises of a Hammond organ. ‘Call’ could be part 3 of the suite since it flows almost seamlessly from the last piece. Here, a squalling guitar is the dominant instrument; it threatens to rock out but even the percussion seems to be holding back; definitely a good thing in my book.

‘Bump’ is the first track which threatens self-indulgence as the guitar and percussion get heavier but it’s a rare false step. The synths for ‘Lights Dim’ add yet more texture to The American Dollar’s already varied oeurvre whilst ‘Transcendence’ reminds me of the glorious aching instrumentals performed by This Is A Process Of A Still Life. For the next few tracks there’s a pleasant victory for subtlety over bombast as the album moves into ambient Bark Psychosis-style territory, particularly for the chiming, atmospheric closer ‘Starscapes’.

Considering the genre has been done to death in recent years, ‘A Memory Stream’ is definitely post-rock of the superior kind. Using instruments like the Hammond organ adds warmth and emotion to wordless music. So contrary to current financial reports, The American Dollar is clearly flourishing after all.

Web Sites:
The American Dollar Official Site
The American Dollar MySpace

Further Listening:
Explosions In The Sky, This Is A Process Of A Still Life, Bark Psychosis

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