ABSOLUTELY FREE RETURNS WITH FIRST STUDIO ALBUM IN SEVEN YEARS
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“Deep-space cosmic-rock odyssey that they’ll be blasting on Orion” – Pitchfork
“Full of groovy motorik rhythms and reverb-soaked hooks” – Rolling Stone
“Stately yet psychedelic” – Stereogum
“The musical equivalent of colouring outside the lines” – CBC Music
Absolutely Free has cultivated a decade-long reputation for an unorthodox approach to both conceiving and performing music. The Toronto psychedelic pop trio’s Polaris Music Prize nominated debut was hailed as “breathtakingly beautiful” (Stereogum) and a “deep-space cosmic-rock odyssey” (Pitchfork) upon its 2014 release. Following an array of multimedia projects and releases, including 2019’s Geneva Freeport EP (featuring U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy) today, the band officially announces its much-anticipated sophomore album, Aftertouch, sharing the first single and video, “How To Paint Clouds.” The song, a complex yet soaring tapestry of polyrhythms and melody-laden synthesizers, considers the absurdity and impermanence of art – an overture to Absolutely Free’s examination of the dwindling physicality of our digitized existence on Aftertouch.
Released today, “How To Paint Clouds” is accompanied by an AI video in which an algorithm built from 2000 internet-sourced paintings of clouds teaches a computer to create its own original paintings of clouds. “Although there are unimaginable forces at play in developing a cloud, or in creating art, all we are able to look for is another face in the sky, a mirror looking back at us,” the band reflects. “A cloud always looks like something other than a cloud.”
Running wild with flourishes of experimentation, yet rooted in accessible melody and rhythm, Absolutely Free continues to blur boundaries between avant-garde and pop across the album’s eight songs. With a tug-of-war between sonic harmony and the foregrounded discordance of present-day society, Aftertouch explores narratives of hegemony, grief, and exploitation in the present while ultimately sustaining curiosity for the unknown “post-everything” future. Making reference to the name of a synthesizer function, Aftertouch deconstructs seismic shifts in contemporary culture and lingers in the echoing sensations that remain.
Known for their varying multi-instrumentalist approaches and experimental live performances, Absolutely Free “wanted to create an album that wasn’t bound by a physical ability to perform it live, to not only expand our palette, but also to consider the live performance as something completely separate.” Shifting in the liminal space between analogue and digital sounds, real and fabricated images, revelling in and refuting the loss of tactility, Absolutely Free is able to create vibrations of physical tension and emotional resonance.
Produced by Jorge Elbrecht, who has shaped the sound of releases by No Joy, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast, and his own bands Lansing-Dreiden and Violens, Aftertouch is dense with ideas but balanced by precise decisions. Culling from a myriad of influences that span Krautrock, New Wave, the proliferation of international Psychedelic and Funk Compilations, and early forms of electronic dance music, Absolutely Free has created a patina of disparate but harmonic styles distinctly its own. Resolute guitar strokes ring out like a call to prayer on the previously released “Still Life” as the band questions our traditional understandings of societal progress and an optimistic future.
Comprised of the core trio of Matt King (vocals/multi-instumentalist), Michael Claxton (bass/synth), and Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg (drums/synth), Absolutely Free is an offshoot of the now-defunct experimental rock outfit DD/MM/YYYY, whose multi-rhythmic boundary-pushing raison d’être provided a springboard for the open skyline on which Absolutely Free now creates. The band’s Polaris-nominated 2014 debut album Absolutely Free., released via Arts & Crafts/Fat Possum Records garnered international acclaim from Pitchfork, FADER, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Exclaim!, Under The Radar, Pop Matters, AllMusic, many more. Absolutely Free have toured alongside Alvvays, Youth Lagoon, and Preoccupationsand have shared bills with Beak>, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, U.S. Girls, and Fucked Up.