The Out_Circuit - Pierce The Empire with a Sound (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Out_Circuit

Pierce The Empire with a Sound (2008)


I'm sure that everyone's heard the expression "one man band" at some point in their lives. It may have been applied to your drunk friend beat boxing and using his hands as drumsticks while everyone else just stands around and laughs, or it could have been the guy wandering around Manhattan with a guitar, harmonica, kazoo and bagpipes all somehow harnessed to his body. Rarely do you find a person this actually applies to. Nathan Burke, as it turns out, is one of those rare people the phrase "one man band" actually does apply to. The former Frodus member is the jack-of-all-trades behind The Out Circuit, and though he receives a helping hand from Coalesce's Sean Ingram and Thrice's Dustin Kensrue among others, Pierce The Empire With A Sound, in its myriad of directions and thick layers is mostly left up to Burke's own devices. There's a lot to talk about in terms of what Burke did right on the album, but the centerpiece, where it all begins, is the lush, gorgeous textures that fill the atmosphere in each of the record's ten songs. It would be impressive enough for an entire band to fill the air with the kind of atmosphere that Burke does, but the fact that only one man is responsible for something as haunting and gorgeous as "Passchendaele" is a testament to his abilities as a songwriter. Following the trail of lightly pounding drum loop, Burke weaves his light vocal delivery and subtle, understated riffs into the fray, the result is an engrossing effort that sets the stage for what's to come. "Across The Light" continues down a similar path -- light, gorgeous vocals over a delicate mix of electronics and a drum machine. Rachel Burke of Beauty Pill contributes her angelic voice to the song, a voice that blends perfectly with Nathan's, almost becoming one in the process. Not all of the album sticks to that style, however; Burke's background in Frodus manifests itself into the album on several different tracks. Deep, guttural screams cut through some reserved instrumentation at the beginning of "The Fall of Las Vegas." Slow, swirling dissonance bridges the song into the next explosion of screamed vocals. This back-and-forth struggle of sorts between the reserved and the chaotic continues for several minutes, and it's just the kind of songwriting that was needed so that listeners don't become complacent with the softer side of The Out Circuit. From beginning to end, everything on the sophomore effort of The Out Circuit is woven together perfectly -- calculated amounts of calm and fury amount to a complete listen -- completely memorable.