I drove. I drove until I happened upon a busy stretch of road that I could find peace on. And then I drove some more. Sirens wailed, bullets sang, bodies danced and death marched close. It didn’t matter. I had the perfect soundtrack. The curious thing about the Grand Theft Auto series of games is that when boiled down to basic components, they’re really quite ordinary. It’s a trick. The gloss is overpowering. There’s really nothing behind the eyes. You will get bored, often quicker with each instalment. The real glory lies in the freedom to express oneself accordingly, leaving guilt-free chaos in your wake. In this case, it was a five-star wanted level, a painful lack of weaponry and an ever-diminishing amount of health. But it didn’t matter. I had the perfect soundtrack.
Adebisi Shank may keep their words to a vocoded minimum, but, as we know by now, they’re big on ideas. Their third record is essentially a succession of increasingly relentless capsule moments. You certainly don’t need visual accompaniment – and as for the Wexford trio providing such wondrous rampage-accompanying audio, their latest missive is ultimately more reminiscent of 16-bit side-scrollers like Gunstar Heroes – as each track provides enough shine by itself. Opener ‘World in Harmony’ screams along for almost two and a half minutes, building and breathing… and then boom. Eyebrows raise, the head turns and the words “sweet jesus” escape your lips as things really get going. It’s an assault, make no mistake, one that provides merciful relief at the end. Take the breather. Once you’ve got your bearings, ‘Big Unit’ sweeps in, the stratosphere itself in sight, the leap almost realised.
Reach. Grab. Escalate. Ascend. Move. These are the ideals and directions associated with This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank. It thrives on forward momentum, continually looking for another peak. Much like ASIWYFA and All Hail Bright Futures, the latest chapter is as colourful as it is life-affirming. While this is easily one of the busier albums of the year, there’s joy in the little details. The breakneck ‘Turnaround’ finds time for a brief accordion flourish, as provided by guitarist Lar Kaye’s father, while ‘Sensation’ writes itself into several corners before breaking through all of them. Super extra bonus points go to ‘Mazel Tov’ for splicing a contemplative robot vocal with the kind of glorious whimsical jazz-funk usually reserved for VHS-era American sitcoms.
Meanwhile, just try and listen to ‘Chaos Emeralds’ without picturing red-eyed Terminator exoskeletons limbering up with mathematical precision before engaging in a particularly frenetic Irish jig whilst jawing at one another. Sure, I sound batshit crazy, but this trip to the stars and back is all about embracing imagination and escapism in a vice-like grip. There is no ceiling, no barriers to cross, no obstacles in the way. Not with this in your ears. Especially when you’re pelting down a virtual highway at top speed as explosions light up the night sky.