El Ten Eleven is not some sort of multilingual moniker for a Spanish alternative rock band. The Los Angeles post-rock duo of bassist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty derives its name from the airplane model, the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. El Ten Eleven has already released four full-length albums, featuring Dunn and Fogarty’s various ideas of effects pedal combinations and drum patterns. On Transitions, record No. 5, the two add a twist to their previous albums’ experimental, instrumental method in the modern world via heavy implementation of the electronica sounds.
Although the seven-song tracklist can deceive the listener into viewing Transitions as an EP, the duo incorporates a thematic quality of transitioning through enough styles and sounds to make the listener feel more than satisfied with the material heard. Opening titular track “Transitions” keeps true to its name, leading the listener throughout a study of stylistic ventures, beginning with a bouncy guitar riff and segueing to varied segments of ambient, instrumental compositions and loops. The song’s end leaves you with a heavy bass vamp, and the following track, “Thanks Bill,” begins with fast-paced cymbal taps and a simple guitar lick. The song jumps back and forth between dampened guitar strums and hard guitar chops with melodic basslines. “Yellow Bridges” seems to be the most “normal” of the tracks on the album in terms of standard rock-song composition. The track begins with slow guitar arpeggios, allowing the tempo to build and give the listener the feeling of practically flying with the fast basslines and manic guitar pickings.
The second half of Transitions opens with “No One Died This Time!,” and the duo makes heavy use of its effects pedals, piling on high-pitched guitar loops and delayed riffs against an electronic drum beat. Going for unorthodox methodology, “Birth” begins with a fuzzy, mechanical hum complemented by the semblance of human presence with hand claps. Following the distorted, grunge downstroke with looped guitar licks, the album moves to “Tiger Tiger.” A journey into the electronica sea, the band toys with synth-pitched guitars in addition to animalistic sound blips on the track. Dunn and Fogarty close the album with “Lullaby,” pairing the synth-tuned guitar whines with ethereal and calming textures.
Although the lack of vocals combined with unpredictable pedal effect sounds, as well as the blasé repetitiveness of constant looping, can be a challenge, El Ten Eleven’s Transitions holds its ground as a recognition-worthy album. The album stands starkly outside of the realms of their previous albums with its increased electronica influence. Transitions finds the band stretching its sound and shows that there’s still uncharted territory for El Ten Eleven to explore, even five albums in.