SEVEN NINES AND TENS - OVER OPIATED IN A FOREST OF WHISPERING SPEAKERS
WEIRDED OUT ROCK BLENDER THAT TAKES SOME EXPLAINING
Seven Nines and Tens have a sound that is a peculiar and slightly mind-bending fusion of the grungy soulfulness of Alice In Chains at their most dreamy with an airy, wistful post-rock shoegaze. There are, moreover, hints of prog and distant accents of desert session rock in this curious mix. In terms of heaviness it arguably registers similarly with grunge or noise-lite but it is all refracted through a hallucinogenic ambient alternative rock shimmer. The contemplative, breathy rock of opener Popular Delusions sets an unhurried pace and open-plan roominess that is hallmark of the record.
At times, Seven Nines and Tens belie their core rock drawl and attitude by adding some real fuzzy crunch. Throwing Stones at Mediocrity has echoes of the be-forested, meditative early work of If These Trees Could Talk before it releases some nodding 1970s classic rock-esque thumping and frazzled riffs. Midnight Maruaders, meanwhile, is almost like a rockier, rougher Tool jamming under a dappled canopy.
Over the piece, however, Over Opiated is not a hard-hitting record. The focus instead hinges very much on ruminative mood and light touch hues in what is a trippy, vaporous immersion. The clean, delicate vocals ghost in and out of wavering, lingering curtains of guitar and sleepily upbeat gaseous atmospheres. The aptly-titled and self-explanatory Let’s Enjoy the Aimless Days typifies a laidback, bucolic, summery vibe. If anything, Over-Opiated becomes even more sedate as the record progresses with increasing use of serenely plucked passages of quietude and chilled out ambience.
Sensibly, Seven Nines and Tens do not allow themselves to meander too far off into their hazy horizons and Over Opiated is kept to a digestible run time. The record thus avoids a common pitfall into which other acts who peddle widescreen somnambulance often (sometimes intentionally) disappear and who conflate ambience with self-indulgence. Having said that, however, Over Opiated - particularly in the second half - is prone to a little drifting and also perhaps a degree of vagueness as, eventually, the dreaminess begins to blur indistinctly and soporifically. This is despite that, in the undertow, there is quite a lot going on musically. Nice harmonies and inventive twists are present though they perhaps become more apparent after committed listens. Some of the band’s clever tricks are less immediate – which is fine so long as a listener is prepared to stick it out. There are rewards if they do.
When there is a seemingly ceaseless concatenation of bands sounding exactly like you know they will just by their name and artwork, it is refreshing to have the likes of Seven Nines and Tens turn out something that is just a little different by mixing up parts that are very familiar. They take elements of conventional rock styles and turn it into a slightly weirded out hybrid that takes some explaining. Rather than conventionally structured rock songs, Over Opiated, as the title expresses - is more a sensory experience.
Over Opiated in a Forest of Whispering Speakers was released via Willowtop Records.