Coming from the land of steaks and largess and things stamped ‘Made In Texas’ At The Drive In are to the world of music a defining point in the landscape of sound; coming at a time when every other week saw the Next Big Thing emerge from a record companies marketing department At The Drive In hit the air with an album of songs and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude that cost less than a iPad and an iTunes voucher.
Originally released in the dim and distant past of 1996 (August 18, 1996, to be precise) the made-for-$600 album Acrobatic Tenement represented not just a new bands first foray onto the worlds stage for critical consideration, but also the album that broke new ground to become At The Drive In’s stamp of musical authority.
When viewed from the tomorrow-land of today – a land wherein the internet makes new musical frontiers as easy to explore and spelunk as a Google link will allow – it’s difficult to appreciate just how different and compelling Acrobatic Tenement was to a musical audience witnessing MTV’s slow decline into pointlessness grunge, having taken the last gasps of hope for music with the back of Cobain’s skull and the bloated excess of rock still an embarrassment best left forgotten in rehab.
Much like the backdrop of the ‘70’s race riots and lightning strikes in England providing a whole new level of understanding when listening to the Sex Pistols NMTB album, so too do the happening within the world of music at the time of Acrobatic Tenement’s release.
As the establishment started reserving tickets on the nu-metal gravy train here was a band of loud, obnoxious, and unashamedly passionate musicians revelling in the malleability of music and almost deliberately unlike anything we’d heard before.
Songs like Initiation and Embroglio sound more concept than complete, their raw nature revealing every squeak of string or creak of snare, vocals a rabid descent into the depths where expression and desperation meet head-on and angry looking.
Schaffino shows At The Drive In’s understanding of the notion of riffs and such-like, and as long as you can stand the pace the blistering track will find itself on your playlist several times over with its subtle changes of direction and driving pull of adrenalin particularly infectious in its execution.
Blue Tag reveals the bands nihilistic streak, the subtle intro and falsetto vocals that gently form the start of the song nothing more than a chance for them to acknowledge the more conventional form of musical expression before snatching you back into the broiling deluge.
Skips On The Record is probably the song anyone unfamiliar with the band will find most approachable, the uncomplicated rhythm and build-and-release of the tracks suspense balanced to sit just on the edge of the bearable.
If you never heard the album before it’d be difficult to find you guilty of ignorance; as influential and impactful on the scene as it was, it’s more the band themselves,  who people seemed to have remembered, rather than the music.
So consider this re-issue of Acrobatic Tenement a chance to learn some musical history and expand your own knowledge of seminal masterpiece albums.
 
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