by Brian J. Audette
From the ashes of those portmanteau-loving, tweet fiends Halaska comes On Delay, a new Austin band with a self-titled debut EP straight from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Featuring former Halaska bassist Eric Elledge and guitarist/vocalist Dieter Geisler, On Delay may bear some resemblance to its progressive, mostly instrumental, and oft-times amorphous predecessor, but easily carves out its own niche with a collection of spacey, psych-tinged tunes. With the addition to the Halaska alum of Kyle Giddens on drums and Paul Shelton on guitar, On Delay have crafted a unique, but familiar auditory presence that most reminds me of what I think of as “that Steve Albini sound” of dank reverb and deep space echoes as heard on such pre-grunge-explosion albums as Slint’s Tweez or Failure’s Comfort, but simultaneously hearkens back to the heyday of psychedelic rock.
For Halaska fans, the tangled intro to “Pills” – the opening track from On Delay’s self-titled debut – will conjure familiar imagery, but that signature intricacy is roughly where the comparisons end. Featuring crisp, wet guitar licks, muted snares, and a velvet bass line, “Pills” offers up the hazy sound of psychedelic lounge. The accomplished instrumentation is joined by Geisler’s crooning vocals which, when paired with such technical jazz, feel a bit lacking though they don’t derail the track.
Suffice it to say, the vocals do show promise in places. “Ghost Box” – the album’s second track – takes us on an otherworldly jaunt scored by spectral reverb, staccato chords, and a deep space guitar solo mid-way through. Geisler’s baritone feels much more at home here, joining the other instruments in illuminating the lava lamp lit byways of an astral travel trip. “My Time” picks up the pace a bit, basking in the radiation of a bubbly, repeated arpeggio; practically a pop song. As our trip through On Delay continues, “Avant Twang” keeps the pace with an anxious bass line, angular notation and growling vocals, while “Waste West” closes the album out with a tune that (like “Pills”) doesn’t quite marry the vocals to the instrumentation as well, but whose extended voiceless mid-section and powerful build easily make up for it.
It would be easy to call On Delay’s debut an album outside of time, but with Austin’s continually thriving psych scene, this potential blast from the psychedelic past is right at home in the present day. Though neither the hard rockin’ psych of The Black Angels nor the heady introspection of Roky Erickson, On Delay settles nicely into Austin’s trippier niche, while also exploring territory beyond. For those seeking a less addled, jazzier, more cerebral psych, On Delay may fit your needs perfectly. Despite the vocals failing to gel with the rest of the instruments in places, the music on this debut leaves little to be desired and if Halaska’s trajectory is any indication of what to expect next, expect the unexpected.
Brian Audette lives somewhere in Austin within a pillow fort made of broken dreams. He only comes out to see shows and buy beer. He has a surprisingly well maintained lawn and is using it to breed an army of attack mosquitoes with which to take over the world. Brian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @bjaudette.