Underground Cities – Arcosanti – 93%

Arcosanti cover art
“Arcosanti” is Underground Cities follow-up album to their 2010 debut “The Dalliance Album.” The Arizona four piece formed in 2008 bring a more straight forward post-rock sound to the table. “Arcosanti” is 46 minutes over eight tracks and starts strong with “Early Birds”, a fun track with acentric drumming and beautifully layered guitar textures. “Made of Rust” is a short and sensual piano number that features a horn instrument in the distant background that helps moves the album along seamlessly to “1876”, a huge track that brings a monumental feel to the table with its build ups and changes in intensity. A large sound stage allows the excellent mixing and audio engineering found throughout the album to really shine.  “Stay Fast With the Ships” begins as a quiet piece chalked full of emotion that features lovely violin work amongst a twinkly backdrop of keyboards and slow distant cymbal crashes. Eventually the track works itself into a post-rock frenzy that I really feel should have lasted much longer.

“Arcosanti Bells” is fun track that is deeply layered and is oozing with charisma and really feels like the track that defines a band. “Talk Slow, Move Slow” is another track with an interlude vibe that helps set the stage for “Something New in All Sizes and Colors”, the longest track on the album at nine and a half minutes long. This track opens curiously and builds up while drums give marching orders as spiraling crescendo guitar layers amp up the sound levels. A clean guitar layer hangs around as long as it can until  distortion guitar layers completely shove it aside. Easily one of the biggest highlights on the album is when this track bursts at the seams as it peaks in all it’s post-rocking glory. Finally the album comes to a close with “It’s a Fine Life”, a great track that really sends the album off as a big closing number.

“Arcosanti” is a highly imaginative and creative release by a young band that have created an absolute powerhouse of an album. It’s not often a release comes along that is this sonically solid while still being just an outright enjoyable album. It brings with it an energetic playful vibe that refuses to let you get sucked into the music, forcing you to pay full attention to every tempo change and every new layer. While “The Dalliance Album” piqued my curiosity towards the band, “Arcosanti” has made me a fan for life. This is a must listen to album of 2012. 9-19-12

Available for $8 on bandcamp: http://undergroundcities.bandcamp.com/album/arcosanti

Review Roundup #3

ToeThe Future is Now EP 82%

Japanese post/math rocker’s TOE are back with their latest release “The Future is  Now.” This is their latest release to 2009’s album “For Long Tomorrow” and is quite  short clocking in at just under 16 minutes over four tracks. Typical quirky and fun math rock blended with bright tones and clean guitars can be found on this EP. Unique drum patterns and a plethora of well textured layers help make the EP feel creative and provide a unique sound as only Toe can. Vocals in the track “Tsuki Kake” are a nice change of pace but the track has somewhat awkward layering and transition issues. “Ordinary Days” is a mellow jam that is as relaxing as it is playful with its quick and sporadic drumming. My favorite track is by far the title track which feels like a rush of sounds exploding before your ears. The quick pacing, heavily layered acoustic guitars and general insanity of this track makes it one of my favorite math-rock tracks of the year. TOE once again proves that post-rock can be designed around the lack of the big build ups and still sound excellent. Overall an EP well worth the listen! – 9/19/12
Available on Itunes or the band’s official website: http://toe.st/

Coastlands/My Brother, My Captain, My KingSplit EP84%

SPLIT EP cover art

This split EP is the collaborative effort of Texas duo Coastlands and My Brother, My Captain, My King who I surprisingly couldn’t find any information about. The EP sits at 25 minutes long over four tracks, two by each band. The first two are from Coastlands and begins with a two-minute intro of  mostly static with deeply layered samples too far embedded in the mix to understand. Next we have “Abductions”, a 10 minute long track that sees the layer of static peel away as the samples begin to become understandable. As the track begins to take form we are treated to an electronic inspired ambient track that is one clean guitar layer away from a drone like feel. Drums are patient and the heavily layered distortion guitars playing the role of drone textures are spot on. I could find myself getting lost in this track over and over.

My Brother, My captain, My King take a more electronic approach as keyboards play over the sound of a crackling fire in “Columbarium Lighthouse.” Drums/beats are rhythmic and feel as though the high hat is being struck at alternating amounts of aggression. The track feels more like a true downtempo electronic track rather than a post-rock track and that is quite alright with me. “Chapman Point” begins as waves crash amongst a beach as layers slowly begin to take form. Again just another great song to chill out to as the pacing, intensity and dark keyboard tones all blend together in perfect synergy. Fans of The Album Leaf should be right at home with My Brother, My Captain, My King. I just hope they develop some sort of web presence as I would certainly like to know and hear more. 9/19/12

Available for $1 on bandcamp: http://coastlands.bandcamp.com/album/split-ep

ReflexerThe Vanishing Lake – 82%

The Vanishing Lake cover art

Reflexer is the solo project of Ryan Anstey, a self-confessed tech geek from Vancouver, BC with a love of music. All of his work is impromptu and all made up on the spot, which is a pretty cool concept. “The Vanishing Lake” is 43 minutes over 14 tracks and were all created by Anstey over the course of the last six years.

Most of the tracks are rhythmically repetitive and there is a definite understanding of post-rock song structure present throughout the album. As this is more of a collection of tracks rather than a true to form album there isn’t much synergy between the tracks and there are a few dramatic transitions in tempo and loudness. As you can probably imagine the guitar work is stellar and captivating and really makes the album. The range of tones and styles featured is infinitely large and range from ambient layers to downright shedding like on the track “Escape From Neptune” which in sticks out as my favorite track by far.

My biggest complaints about this release are that the drums are mixed too loud and some of the tracks are far too short. For example, “The Invisible Enemy” is an excellent 6 minute track but “Capture of the Red Falcon” fades out right as its hitting its stride.  Albeit most of them are short, 14 tracks are a lot of different sounds to digest. Fans of more electronic inspired post-rock should feel right at home while fans of more dramatic and drawn out material might want to look elsewhere. 9-19-12

Available for $2 on bandcamp: http://reflexer.bandcamp.com/