The definition of ‘Agoramania’ is, if you didn’t already know, a mania for open spaces. It’s a big clue to the music on Jeremy Marsan’s aptly-titled debut too, which evokes wide open spaces and takes an expansive, free-thinking approach to embrace multiple genres. On a more prosaic level, though, its inspiration partly came from the labyrinthine layout of a shopping mall.
As an indication of what is to follow, ‘Strain Theory’ is a perfect start. It’s a fabulously constructed song which begins as a ringing guitar/ambient pop number and then shoots off on a brilliant unexpected tangent towards lush, dream pop territory, accompanied by shuddering echoes. The style changes are impressive throughout, especially so when the slowcore atmospherics of ‘Fluorescent’ escalate into angsty indie. The instrumentals are fascinating too: ‘Trans’ is an eerie trip into ambient rock and jazz rhythms, reminiscent of the early work of Engineers or indeed latter day Breathless, whilst ‘Institute Of Open Space’ and the reverb-heavy ‘Snow Day’ explore the realms of post-rock. Marsan’s vocals are a lovely instrument in their own right, sounding like a young Sam Prekop for the brief but delightful ‘Sirin’ and that relaxed but intelligent air (of fellow Illinois act) The Sea And Cake is prevalent on ‘Dominoes’ and ‘Reawaken’.
If there is a small criticism that could be aimed at Marsan, it would be that this record could do with a few more actual songs since there is an emphasis on long instrumental sections which, although mightily impressive and inventive, would benefit by being broken up slightly more by Marsan’s appealing vocals. Nevertheless, ‘Music For Agoramaniacs’ is a wonderfully textured debut from a promising young talent.
The Sea And Cake, Engineers, Lake Trout, Breathless