Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Star Zero Pound, a new artist on Nematode Records. Their newest release is set to drop this Friday, Feb. 12, but the folks over at Nematode were kind enough to supply me with an early sneak peek of the two tracks. ‘Beyond the Emptiness’ and ‘Messenger of the Timeless’ are all I have to go off in regard to Star Zero Pound - their online presence isn’t currently launched. So, let’s delve right into the two tunes.
While I’m not particularly a fan of reviewing an artist that doesn’t have much of a presence for contextual reasons, I will concede that the approach does allow me to focus solely on the music and only the music. I kicked off my Star Zero Pound journey with ‘Beyond the Emptiness,’ an eerie, highly atmospheric track that’s difficult to pin into a specific classification. It toys with psychedelic musings in a contemporary indie rock setting. The vocals are droning harmonies that mimic the instrumentation, aiding the crafting of a fairly original sonic landscape. I do hope, however, that the band doesn’t want their listeners to get any meaningful lyrical content out of the song. If they do, they need to revisit the mix and highlight the vocals better.
Since the vocals are so subtle, the instrumentation is where ‘Beyond the Emptiness’ shines. As I mentioned, it’s modernized psychedelic. It’s accessible, though, and I think Star Zero Pound does an excellent job of creating a psychedelic space that isn’t ostentatious or overzealous. Those are big musical turn offs for many listeners, and they’re most present in genres like psychedelic and prog rock. It’s nice Star Zero Pound maintains a level of brevity within their delivery.
‘Messenger of the Timeless’ is, in my opinion, the superior track. The vocals align very similar territory - with half a dozen run-throughs, I probably still couldn’t recite a word from the track. That said, the instrumentation is even more gratifying than its predecessor. The sonic layering is splendid, and I particularly enjoy the dichotomy between the acoustic and electric instruments on the track.
My only critique of Star Zero Pound is their vocal mix. Especially on ‘Messenger of the Timeless,’ I could tell I was losing a part of the experience as a result of the production drastically under-mixing the vocals. This may have been a stylistic, conscious choice. If that’s the case, I’d still argue it is worth revisiting. That aside, the two tracks are a sublime excursion through well-performed rock.