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Posted on May 27th, 2009 (6:20 pm) by Andrew Schlag

The Most Serene Republic has been making a name for themselves with their perplexing orchestrations, buried vocals, and consistent progression between records. Now, with their new EP Digital Population, they have taken an unexpected turn with an electronic twist. Five tracks were hand picked from their sophomore album Population and thrown into a whole new (electronic) light. Described by the band as sounding similar to “Nintendo on ecstasy”, Digital Population definitely caused me to do a musical double take upon my first listen; for The Most Serene Republic, this record represents an entirely different dimension.

Rarely does a band have the audacity, not to mention the talent, to completely deviate from their style of music. The Most Serene Republic has done just that, trading in their small orchestra for electronic devices along the likes of theremins, synthesizers, and computers. The question in my mind as I begun listening to this EP was: could they recreate their uniqueness and complexity of Population with electronic instruments alone?

Upon first listen of the opener, “Humble Peasants”, I was thrown for a loop. I have to admit, “Was I sent the correct record?” ran through my head. Thinking it might have been just a fluke I continued listening with increasing doubt and disapproval. However, after discovering the story behind the song and a couple of close listens, my initial displeasure turned to feelings akin to awe at the record's electronic depth.

Being Arts & Crafts first non-Broken Social Scene related artists, the Most Serene Republic has had a lot to prove for themselves. Their constant experimentation and progression between albums has separated them a bit from Broken Social Scene. Can these continual changes eventually be their own downfall? Besides pure innovation, Digital Population has been a chance for them to obtain some new followers, but at the same time they may be loosing just as many as they gain. Naturally, TMSR fans have an eclectic taste, but average listeners will only go so far. For fans that aren’t into the sounds of traditional electronic music, (although this EP isn’t necessarily “traditional”), this may not be your most favorite thing the group ever released. Nonetheless, a tip of the proverbial hat is most definitely in order.

As “Sherry And Her Butterfly Net” brings the record to a close, I really had to sit back for a minute and put everything into perspective. As this is a record by The Most Serene Republic, it’s no easy feat. Attempting to compare them, it's obvious that these tracks are not electronic duplicates of those on Population, which is definitely a good thing. That said, on close inspection you’ll notice that many elements from the original record are still present (at least in spirit). The segments of overwhelming emotion and darkness are as powerful as ever. Without vocals you would think it would be difficult to incorporate feelings in such a robotic fashion, but TMSR has found a way. To be fair, I must point out their vocals are usually hidden under heavy orchestrations, so developing emotions through instruments is something they have always been accustomed to. Overall, their usual orchestrations may be missing, but their sound is still there.

For the Most Serene Republic, their latest EP is definitely a step in a new direction from their debut, Underwater Cinematographer. With their new album ...And The Ever Expanding Universe already hinted to having a slight change in musical direction, it seems The Most Serene Republic isn't planning on settling down anytime soon.

Track List

1. Humble Peasants (2:21)
2. Compliance (4:01)
3. The Men Who Live Upstairs (3:12)
4. Present Of Future End (4:48)
5. Sherry And Her Butterfly New (3:30)

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

Unrated
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