Addition by Subtraction, and Then by Addition
There are subtle shifts in musical style and then there are those creative left turns that threaten to send fans into the nearest wall— like the Beastie Boys moving from their punk roots to white-boy rap, Liz Phair going pop and Neil Young going electro. It could certainly be argued that San Francisco-based electronic artist Alex Georgopolous swerved like this on MORE, his fourth album under his solo guise Arp, but it’s only almost true.
Arp’s releases before this were full of pleasantly meandering motorik and arrangements based on melodic musique concrete, with languid vocals reserved for an average of one track every other year. The work suggests ballet on the stage of the mind’s eye, made by someone very much enamored with the likes of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn.
But while Georgopolous replaces what came before with unabashed chamber pop on MORE, this move actually isn’t a complete surprise. You probably blinked and missed Frkwys Vol. 3, Arp’s collaboration with the musical Swiss Army knife Anthony Moore (sometimes known as Anthony More, get it?). It matched Moore’s high-minded instrumentation with some of Arp’s scratchy loops—light and loose orchestration was the focus, not beats.
Arp now goes pretty much full-on Tindersticks on MORE, with strings, piano and other traditional rock sounds fronted by Georgopolous’ unaffected psychedelic- and prog-touched vocals. Between his time spent with Moore and the sonic scene-setting of his earlier work, you can definitely hear a similar lilt to his music even if the electronics are now relegated to short interludes and occasional distortion. The change in delivery is certainly jarring, yet the organic pleasantries of this Arp album somehow remain the same.