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Normal Love: Normal Love (2007)

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Normal Love: Normal Love How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Normal Love is a beautiful mess—I'm sure we can all attest to that.

But seriously, Normal Love, the band, is a five-piece ensemble from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that straddles the seemingly distant divide between thrash-metal noisecore and 20th Century composition. Their self-titled debut, on boundary busting record label High Two, is a nerve-tingling exposition, as dissonant chords and meandering anti-melodies tug, tear and torture the soul of the listener.

It's important to note that the six compositions found on Normal Love are, in fact, just that—compositions. Normal Love exclusively performs composed music, usually reading from sheet music on stage.

"Severe Confection is a bit of a musical concussion, a technically demanding soundscape of layered rhythms and rotating time signatures. You almost have to be glad knowing that this band is performing pre-composed music—because to play like this out of sheer spontaneity would be, well, sickening.

Guitarists Alex Nagle and Ammon D. Freidlin shred with unbridled ferocity on "The Signal's Coming from Pittsburgh (Part One), doodling at a dizzying pace before launching into the chug-chug rhythms of the tech-core bands so popular in the indie-metal scene today. On "Pittsburgh (Part Two), Carlos Santiago's plugged-in violin is really given some room to maneuver.

The four stringed instruments, Nagle, Freidlin, Santiago and bassist Evan Lipson, dance around African polyrhythms on "Ndugo, with drummer Eli Litwin sitting out until well into the tune. Not to be ignored, Litwin takes over "Final Sarcophagus. His blast beats and double-bass drum rolls (drumming more akin to Dillinger Escape Plan and Zach Hill's Hella than, say, Han Bennink) give "Sarcophagus a completely different feel than the rest of the selections found here.

"Hooks has plenty of those—not melodic hooks but more like the sort that accompany jabs and precede uppercuts. Like the best boxing match, this track feels like a dance, as the band bobs and weaves against Litwin's static click.

With this level of intensity, it'd be easy to dismiss Normal Love as chaotic noise or thoughtless, amplified angst bombs—just like assuming spontaneous combustion is something that just happens and having to deal with irony contained therein. But Normal Love is hardly that.

Play this album at ten if you're looking for a good reason to get evicted. Play it at ten if you've had the worst day ever and you're just looking to thrash. Just play it as loud as possible—Normal Love would like that, I'm sure.


Track Listing: Severe Confection; The Signal's Coming From Pittsburgh (Part One); The Signal's Coming From Pittsburgh (Part Two); Ndugo; The Final Sarcophagus of Darkness; Hooks.

Personnel: Amnon D Freidlin: guitar; Evan Lison: bass; Eli Litwin: drums; Alex Nagle: guitar; Carlos Santiago: violin.

Record Label: High Two Recordings

Style: Fringes of Jazz


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