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Album Review

Right from the opening bars and arrangements, the comparison point between Antarctica and New Order is perfectly clear — it's the same mix of technology and post-punk rock, playing out in a new decade and a new audience. But the five-piece clearly isn't simply out to recreate any one group, which is what makes 81:03 a fine follow-up to the band's debut EP. Vocalists/guitarists Chris Donohue and Eric Richter don't try to sound like Bernard Sumner, for instance, instead introducing a softer, almost breezier tone to their singing. There's more overt singing for its own sake, though there's also a delicious melancholy often present, suggesting a wide range of '80s antecedents — Scandinavian pop, indie jangle, and more — all nicely fused into an overall presentation. Guitarwise, meanwhile, there's as much Robert Smith as anything else. Bassist Ben Zimmerman and drummer Gregg Maryansky are talented without being noticeably individual, laying down crisp beats and tones, though sometimes seemingly holding back the pace. All together there's something that suggests the work of early-'90s shoegaze in their arrangements here and there, with a vast sense of atmosphere instead of fuzzed-out work, the lengthy "Hallucinus" being a fine example. Keyboardist Nicole Waxenblatt more than once proves the group's secret weapon, providing melodic leads at points while at others filling out the arrangements both in terms of her subtle synth washes and drum machine punch and groove. She really shines when the band lets everything open up, like the lengthy, soaring conclusion of "Tower of Silence." As a whole 81:03 is a varied, strong album, its songs often showing strong internal variety — consider "The Velvet Flood," with its elegantly downbeat introduction alternating with a vibrant but still just gently sad enough chorus. 81:03 turned out to be Antarctica's only full album, but as such it's far better than any contemporary tag as emo music would have indicated.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

New York's Antarctica formed in 1995 with the line-up of Chris Donohue (vocals, guitar, programming), Glenn Maryansky (drums), Ben Zimmerman (bass), Eric Richter (vocals, guitar) and Nicole Waxenblatt (keyboards). The band released the 23:03 EP in 1997, followed by the full-length 81:03 in 1999, which was produced by Alap Momin (Dalek, The Lapse). Antarctica played shows with National Skyline, Jets to Brazil, The Promise Ring, and Jimmy Eat World, but broke up in 1999....
Full bio
81:03, Antarctica
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