A quick burst of synth. Delicately twittering birds. Celestial, gargled feedback. A splash of static. Birds flying, wind moving. This is the progression of E2 Octopus, a 44-second interlude in a 54-minute album that sustains itself in lengthy, meandering tones. It’s a breathless, almost forgettable instrumental compared to its tracklist neighbors, but it sounds like the entire LP replayed in under one minute. “Organic” seems like the best way to describe Alexis Georgopoulos’s MORE. But paradoxically, it’s also an overstuffed, satisfyingly bloated fantasy as well.
MORE is Georgopoulos’s first foray into stylized pop arrangements under the Arp moniker. His previous albums, including 2010′s The Soft Wave and minimalist work FRKWYS 3, were mostly synthesizer-based; MORE is a sharp right turn into a wall of pop for the artist. Whereas his electronic releases may have been slightly more difficult for the uninitiated to digest, MORE is endlessly listenable. This is also Georgopoulous’s first attempt at classic songwriting, and from his inexperience, he unearths experimentation. The eccentricities that result from that experimentation—vocal drop-offs, key changes, artificial and found sounds—are what make the songs memorable.
In addition to his musical chops, Georgopoulos is also a published writer and visual artist: He’s interviewed Teenage Jesus And The Jerks‘ dark genius, James Chance, and curated performance and video installations at NYC’s downtown avant-garde headquarters, The Kitchen. He’s scored films; and he’s even worked as the Music Editor at SOMA. So it makes sense that MORE sounds like an amalgamation of all of Georgopoulos’s mediums. MORE isn’t just sound. It’s a narrative, a visual, and a meticulously crafted symphony all at once.
Arp wrote the album in New York, and urban ennui and awe shine through in equal amounts. Take the airy piano track Gravity (For Charlemagne Palestine), for example, or A Tiger In The Hall At Versailles, a faux optimistic soundtrack to a space war. Then there’s Light + Sound, a rubbery ballad peppered with airy “da da das” and more chirping birds. Any of these could be an enthusiastic soliloquy of city life or a tongue-in-cheek insult of it. The album’s stand-out track, More (Blues), is most representative of the the LP’s overall sound, with Georgopoulos’s smoky baritone slowly rolling over blown-out horns, sleepy guitars and an organ. Whereas E2 Octopus was rapid and noisy, More (Blues) is the opposite: syrupy, languid, unconcerned with time.
What comes through most clearly on MORE is that, before everything else, Arp is an artist. His song arrangements are experimental, though first coming off as simple pop ditties. His intentions are subliminal and hidden beneath breezy interludes and stretched-out sounds. Although MORE covers an impressive amount of ground, it ends with a sense that this isn’t over yet. Maybe that’s because Arp still has two more releases set for 2013.