Consider On Little Known Frequencies — either From Monument to Masses' second, third, or fourth record, depending on how you count, but at least four years behind their last — your official introduction to this spectacularly talented local band. It's not unfair to do so, for the 51-minute, eight-track collection captures, distills, and reimagines everything the group's done so far: in essence, an all-instrumental hybrid of post-rock, post-punk, and electronics interlaced with political and protest-minded audio snippets. The band's name will give you a clue to its message: a motion to wrest power from figureheads ("monuments") and return it to the people ("masses").
The result of a cross-country collaboration between Bay Area guitarist Matthew Solberg and bassist Sergio Robledo-Maderazo and New York drummer Francis Choung, Frequencies is a dense, multilayered adventure, both ethereal and confrontational, through the extraordinary audio territory the band has mapped for itself since forming in 2002. Looped guitar riffs pile atop one another over crisp, precise, powerful drumming, while thick bass lines provide both bedrock and counter-melody. The album features more sophistication and poise — and likewise, less punk aggression — than anything before it, as well as new levels of rhythmic experimentation ("Let Them Know It's Christmastime" ventures into world music with an African polyrhythm) and new instruments, including turntable, cello, and viola. Some of the guitar parts may be partially recycled from earlier works, but if you pick up here, as many new fans surely will, you'll never know the difference. (Dim Mak Records)