No Age’s albums do not shift abruptly. They just peel away layers to reveal new ones (while leaving plenty of the old audible, too). Their debut EP collection, Weirdo Rippers, was most punk when it toyed with the mix, pushing drums to the front and vocals to the back as a clever, non-traditional reversal of Dean Spunt’s drummer/vocalist duties, à la bands like Wire (whose “It’s So Obvious” was directly quoted for the chorus of “Boy Void”).
The exploration of blanketing guitar effects for their next album, Nouns, resembled Pavement circa “Texas Never Whispers,” with the cresting momentum of a piece like Glenn Branca’s famed “The Ascension.” On the new An Object, the duo moves even further away from their Void and Iron Cross-influenced hardcore beginnings (as Wives), and progresses into a world of sometimes total sparseness.
The new “An Impression” echoes Young Marble Giants’ muted “Salad Days.” On this album, the drones gauze over the riffage like overcast weather; the squealing feedback hook in “C’mon Stimmung” is a reminder of Yo La Tengo’s early single “Barnaby, Hardly Working.” And the mildly fist-pumping “Lock Box” has the same lackadaisical singsong quality as Deerhunter’s more recent “Strange Lights.”
The band’s always-subtle use of samples becomes even more finely woven, as with the breaking-glass motif found in sample-rock pioneers Disco Inferno’s “From the Devil to the Deep Blue Sky.” The opening one-chord drone of “No Ground” resembles the intense repetition of Th’ Faith Healers’ songs like “This Time.” Elsewhere, the free-spirit nature of the band’s sound-spelunking touches on everything from Ministry’s hypnotizing “Stigmata” to Cypress Hill’s screeching “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” They make sampling sound like classic rock.