The "free" in Toronto trio Absolutely Free's name is a loaded term. While on the surface, it's a reference to Frank Zappa's similarly titled album, it also represents freedom from the modest success of the group's previous art-punk band, DD/MM/YYYY. More importantly, naming their new incarnation so underscores the band's freedom to do anything. Thus far, Absolutely Free have released a handful of mini-epics packed with bizarre samples and motorik beats via two vinyl singles, provided live scores to a 1950s UFO film and some Norman McLaren animations, and played a gig at an indoor pool (along with gradually introducing listeners to their unique sound via a selective touring schedule). All of this freedom has culminated in a stellar debut full-length for Arts & Crafts.
For anyone familiar with the hydra-limbed polyrhythmic punk of DD/MM/YYYY, Absolutely Free's aesthetic is markedly restrained. The drumbeats are laser-focussed, and occasional sonic chaos is edged in through analog keyboards and subtle layers of noise, all of which provides an idiosyncratic update on the Krautrock sounds they're occasionally referencing. There's still loads of energy, but the trio display a striking ability to ratchet up the intensity at key moments, like the Caribou-esque psychedelic swirls of "Beneath the Air," propulsive space-funk of "Vision's" and the mid-song peak of slow-burning closer "Spiral Jetty." All of which makes for an absolutely triumphant debut.