Review: Enablers ‘Output Negative Space’

OK folks, some housekeeping first. This is a 15th anniversary reissue from Human Worth of Enablers highly acclaimed 2006 Output Negative Space album with some of the proceeds going to music & mental health charity Sounds Of Saving. This re-release also coincides with the passing of original drummer Joe Byrnes nearly 10 years ago, RIP. Neurot Recordings co-founder Steve Von Till stated ‘This release has always held a special place in my heart…I have always loved Enablers combination of spoken word and incredibly intuitive electric guitar’. Having reviewed Pigeon Diaries, I completely relate to what Steve is saying here.

Enablers 'Output Negative Space'

In addition to the aforementioned Joe Byrnes, the album also consisted of Pete Simonelli – words, Kevin Thomson – guitar and Joe Goldring on guitar/hammond. The artwork has been reworked and while the original featured an all-black cover that hardly set the world alight, this time around it’s been lovingly compiled to commemorate not only a highly regarded album, but also Byrnes himself.

Five O’Clock, Sundays reminds me a little of Oxbow and their more improvised jazz moments, though frontman Simonelli is nowhere near as intense as Eugene S Robinson and I’m fairly certain he’s never wrestled audience members (see Music For Adults: A Film About A Band Called Oxbow). Simonelli‘s spoken word vocals possess a literary quality, and reading the lyrics there are shades of vintage Bukowski thrown in. Up is classic post-rock and to quote the promo notes will appeal to fans of the ‘frenzied fever dreams of Slint’, in fact, you’ll be cranking your copy of Spiderland soon afterwards. There are also moments that remind me of the overlooked post-hardcore outfit Bluetip, never a bad thing.

My instincts tell me that On Monk is a tribute to jazz legend Thelonious Monk and starts off slowly, before building in drama and power in a fashion that recalls early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Possibly my favourite track on here by a country mile. Mediterranean has more of a math-rock approach along the lines of a band like Polvo, the lyrics reading like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick with the music evoking the unpredictability of the waves. The title track, Outdoor Negative Space, is a beautiful shimmering piece with twin guitars complimenting each other so well that you soon forget the absence of a bass.

[Simonelli’s vocals] when delivered with such a classy accompanying post-hardcore/post-rock soundtrack, you’re left with all the markings of a truly fantastic album…

Meanwhile For Jack – A Philippic, by contrast, sees the band letting loose with some brilliantly abrasive noise-rock. The Jack in the title is addressed to a friend of frontman Pete Simonelli (the surrealist mentioned in the poem), while a Philippic is a fiery damning speech or tirade; reading the lyrics, that is certainly the case in this instant and it perfectly suits the harder-edged sounds on offer. Sudden Inspection once again taps into Slint and makes you realize what a profound influence and affect that band have had on music as a whole.

1939 features Byrnes‘ Broken Horse/Tarnation bandmate Alex Oropeza on piano and the track leans on the tension building side of the equation for Enablers, although it does start off with some Low style slowcore. Ghosting is modern parlance for the unsavoury practice of cutting all contact with someone with no explanation and the lyrics hint at that. This makes for a somewhat sombre and downbeat conclusion to the album.

Pete Simonelli‘s stream of consciousness spoken word vocal approach may prove a sticking point for some, however, when delivered with such a classy accompanying post-hardcore/post-rock soundtrack, you’re left with all the markings of a truly fantastic album. By purchasing this record you’ll not only be getting some amazing tunes, but you’ll be contributing to a worthy cause. What more could you ask for?

Label: Human Worth
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills