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+/- {Plus/Minus} signs to Absolutely Kosher, preps fall release

By August 14, 2006No Comments

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New York City band +/- {Plus/Minus} has signed with the Berkeley label Absolutely Kosher and will release Let’s Build a Fire, its first release for the label and third album overall, on Oct. 24 of this year.

+/- {Plus/Minus} was originally conceived in 2001 as a vehicle for the songs of Versus guitarist James Baluyut. Teenbeat released the first LP, Self-Titled Long Playing Debut Album, on which James essentially played and recorded everything, in early 2002. The act quickly evolved into a full-fledged band, with the addition of fellow Versus member and longtime friend Patrick Ramos on guitar and vocals, and Austin, TX expatriate Chris Deaner on drums. Despite two-thirds of the group having roots in Versus, this new incarnation of +/- {Plus/Minus} was an entirely original construct, layering wistful pop with dynamic and complex arrangements and fusing rich, dense guitar sounds with polyrhythms drummed, strummed and programmed. With the release of the Holding Patterns EP and their sophomore album You Are Here in 2003/early 2004, it became abundantly clear that +/- {Plus/Minus} was applying pressure to the pop mechanism, assuring that it would indeed go “POP!”

The last several years have earned the band a powerful reputation as a live act (which resulted in a support invitation from Death Cab For Cutie in 2005). An extensive tour of Japan forced the band to issue a not-quite-complete version of their third album Let’s Build A Fire earlier this year through their Japanese label (which you may have heard thanks to the wonders of the Internet – completists and fans who shelled-out for the import will note a few tracks have been swapped out from the Japanese version, several were remixed and the whole thing was properly and painstakingly mastered).

After the tour and landmark shows at both SXSW and the Noise Pop Festival, +/- {Plus/Minus} began talking to Absolutely Kosher Records and finished work on Let’s Build A Fire, which is clearly the best record of their career thus far. The first four tracks on the album alone are gauntlet, a flawless snapshot of what makes +/- {Plus/Minus} so great. The title track starts off the record with crackling gramaphonic sound that is then shattered by a coolly exhuberant horn section and lumbering bass. The effect is as shocking as yanking the blanket off a sleeping person in winter. “Fadeout” sees them crack their knuckles and operate like a parlor magician, diverting your attention with sonic flourishes before you realize that your watch (or your heart) has been stolen. “Steal the Blueprints,” the album’s first single, impossibly ups the ante even further with every measured turn of sound or phrase intricately threaded through the whole of the song like the strings of a master puppeteer, never tangling, and all working the whole into a seemlessly beautiful choreography. While the originality of their composition and production deserves notice, at the heart of all of it is a naked and potent lyricism, as shown on “Leap Year” (one of four tracks penned by Ramos) and the gentle “This Is All I Have Left.” The entire album is rich with these elements and the end result is both startling and utterly captivating.

The band will be touring the nation this fall and early winter (including East Coast dates with the Wrens) in support of Let’s Build A Fire. CNN’s Anderson Cooper says in his iTunes Celebrity Playlist: “If you hear they are playing some small venue, go see them before they blow up.” Listen to Mr. Cooper.

Let’s Build a Fire Track List:

1.Let’s Build a Fire
3.Steal the Blueprints
4.The Important Thing Is To Love
5.Thrown into the Fire
6.Summer Dress 2 [Iodine] 7.Ignoring All the Detours
9.One Day You’ll Be There
10.This Is All I Have Left
11.Leap Year
12.Time and Space
13.For You