Foofer Friday: Lite – Installation

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It’s hard to describe mathrock in any other way than “Just a bunch of music majors constantly finger-tapping.” Or “Time changes. Time changes everywhere.” But neither of these descriptions apply to LITE. They are definitely mathrock, but they refuse to fall in line with every other mathrock band out there, and truly stand out as something special.

What I mean becomes apparent from the very beginning of ‘Installtion’, their latest album. They have a very linear structure, and don’t change times very often at all. It’s actually more like Post-rock with its structure: continually adding layer upon syncopated layer until it creates this wall of sound. They still retain thier mathy sound through complicated drumming and intricate guitar riffs, but they don’t sound like every other mathrock band out there. All that within 4 minutes. To say this is a roller coaster of an album would be nothing if not accurate.

Nothing is played that isn’t complimentary to another instrument at the time, everything is timed perfectly and executed as such. The textures that are made always fit so perfectly with the mood of the song. If this album had vocals, I wouldn’t be able to resist singing along, even if it were to be Japanese. The jazzy chord work in “Hunger” never fails to make me feel as if I should don a leather jacket and Ray-Bans. It’s so cool and smooth, it makes me feel like a neanderthal by comparison.

It’s difficult to think of a word other than ‘groovin’ when it comes to the bass. It’s as if the bassist has ADD in the best way possible, he can’t still for too long, he has to be doing something other than following the guitars around like a lost puppy. The way “Bond” and “Fog Up” are strung together show a certain regard for the bass that I don’t see too often in the mathrock bands I listen to. To me, it also shows a strong sense of flow for the album overall. They were very purposeful about what song goes where, rather than a mess of songs thrown together, which is becoming more popular with smaller mathrock bands I’ve noticed this past year or so.

Mathrock is trending within the smaller circles of music lovers, and it’s beginning to show in the new mathrock bands that are popping up left and right. I would suggest to these new bands that they look at bands like LITE for inspiration and guidance. Their strong sense of direction should be shining beacon to others, making the genre more enjoyable overall. And with Topshelf Records releasing this album on digital and vinyl later this year, I think that LITE becoming a mathrock cornerstone is a very distinct possibility.

You can wait for the vinyl, or buy it on tape now through Keep It Together Records if you just so happen to be the impatient type. But if you do so happen to order through Keep It Together, I would also recommend LITE’s previous album “Past, Present, Future” and Low-Pass’ “Trimurti”. Both are superb mathrock albums from Japan, without the incredulous shipping fees.

 

    

Foofer Friday: Row Boat – Romance

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Romance’ is, in a word, beautiful.

There, I’m done. On to the next review.

Seriously, there isn’t much to describe Row Boat’s latest release other than Beautiful. The opening track ‘Bella’ is a beautiful soundscape created by a myriad of instruments, showing you just how far Row Boat is from traditional post-rock. The more traditional instruments are barely audible. Like they’re trying to sound like post-postrock without being pretentious. Again, just… Beautiful.

‘Ljudet’ takes a more neo-classical turn, laid atop ambient guitars. It has a sombre feel to it, but strongly retains its beauty. The structure reminds me of Lowercase Noises’ “Migratory Patterns” EP, with the droning and slow horn progression fading in and out again. In keeping up with the romance theme, even the deepest of relationships have dark times. This is a perfect representation of that idea.

The title track ‘Romance’ is, in my opinion, representative of the more light-hearted times in a long-term relationship. It isn’t energetic by any means, but its melancholic positivity is clear. It’s far too easy to space out and think of friends during this song, but I think that’s what post-rock is partly about.

The album seamlessly progresses to its last track, ‘Gjenfodt’. The dreamy vocals singing in a foreign language are like The Dude’s rug: It ties it all together. The rhythmless structure feels like it was composed with instruments made of clouds, it’s so soft and gentle to the ears. The percussion instument sounds like a child’s toy, giving it a true sense of innocence.

The Romance theme is far too strong to ignore, upgrading this from a very impressive EP, to bery impressive *conceptual* EP. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re into sad mountains, distant boats, or lonely birds.

10/10 burning cars.

    

Foofer Friday: Dust Sculptures – Far Above The Pines

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This is one of those rare albums that stood out to me during my slumming session through the new albums tagged as post-rock on bandcamp. For the mast part, it’s pretty easy to tell when something isn’t actually post-rock just by looking at the tags. I cannot tell you how many times I didn’t even bother clicking play because I saw so many tags that weren’t post-rock. Dust Sculptures hit all the right notes with tags like Shoegaze, Progressive, Black Metal, Experimental, and Post-rock. I will be among the first to tell you that all of these tags are accurate.

Just looking at the bandcamp page, you can immediately tell that he’s put a lot of effort into this album, seeing how the track titles themselves tell a story of sorts. “Far above the pines lies the youngest mountain, where we left something in the snow. Subtle thing under the canopy of trees, breathing life into these tired lungs.” Right away I knew this was something very special.

This one man band from Nashville seamlessly ties together so many genres at once, it’s really hard to describe him in a small amount of words. At one point you could go from experimental soundscapes to chilled out jam sessions, to blistering blast beats all withing the span of a minute. It’s a roller coaster of sounds, and what a thrilling ride it is.

Josh Marberry, the man behind the music, really showcases his skills and talents in the opening track, ‘Far Above The Pines’. It begins with a very heavy influence from post-rock, with tremolo guitars in the distance moving to layered guitars, in a very post-metal sort of groove. Layered voices, all belonging to Josh, sing of the Pines in a very heavenly tone. It’s very simple harmonies, but he pulls it off well. The mellow sounds eventually give way to heavier, more metallic influences. And then he goes full out black metal.

And I haven’t even covered the first half of the first track.

In all of its 13 minutes, not a single second has gone unperfected. Every single track of this album is exactly the same in regards to attention to detail. Everything is very deliberate without feeling too forced. The sudden transitions from electric guitars to acoustic aren’t jarring at all, proving an extremely strong sense of structure.

Since we’re on the topic of structure – Remember those track titles? Each sentence takes up about half of the album. Once one sentence is over, the album feels like it’s been flipped over; like flipping a record on a turntable. There are no words to describe my excitement about this detail. To most, it would go unnoticed. Back in the day, artists would take the size of a vinyl record into consideration and make two sides of an album; two sides of the same coin. I don’t know if that’s what Josh had in mind, or if it’s completely by accident, but I love this album all the more for it. The “Sides” are in fact too big to fit on one side of a 12″ 33rpm vinyl record, but the concept itself doesn’t go unappreciated.

This is a remarkable album, forged by a remarkable musician. A true artist with a true work of art. This doesn’t deserve to be tied to any one genre, it doesn’t deserve to be heard by any one group of fans. Anyone and everyone who enjoys masterful music should listen to this magnificent piece and bask in its genius. Listen to it now and listen to it played loud.

 

  

This Patch of Sky – This Patch of Sky

     Sometimes in life we lose sight of what we came from and who we’ve become. Natural and organic change is a gradual experience that can be rapid at times, slow to a crawl at others or come and go in spurts. As a music reviewer, nothing is more satisfying to me than to be able to chart the progression of a band from album to album. I need to see forward progress on each subsequent album to truly enjoy a band’s work and get an understanding for what they’re trying to accomplish and where I think they might be headed.

    I’m not sure where This Patch of Sky is headed and I feel that might be the biggest compliment I can offer to the Oregon 6-piece. Having followed the band since their 2011 debut ‘The Immortal, The Invisible’, I can honestly say that I feel like a proud parent that has watched their kin grow up before their eyes to begin heading down a path to fully realize their potential. With their fourth release in as many years, TPOS have transformed from an eccentrically aggressive style of post-rock that attempted to lure in listeners with catchy hooks and flashy guitar work to what is now one of the most complete and full sounding post-rock bands in the world.

    Generally I’d do a track-by-track breakdown of the album right here, but instead I want to do something a little different. I want to compare three songs from this album to three songs from each of their previous albums just to illustrate how far the band has come. Let’s start off with the intro track, “Time Destroys Everything, But Our Foundation Remains the Same” that begins with a serene grace period, slowly building forward, accumulating layers and playing on emotions before peaking around the five-minute mark with a burst of spiraling crescendos amidst a wall of rapidly progressing sound before tapering off into a beautiful cello ending. Now let’s compare this to “A Fire Through The Dark”, the opening number of 2011’s ‘The Immortal, The invisible’ . This song is ultimately the song that put TPOS on the map for me with it’s quick pacing and layered guitars chalked full of aggression and power. It’s a damn fine track with a killer ending, but in comparing the two tracks, the repetition found in the latter of the two immediately sticks out. Repetition is simply no longer present in TPOS sound, catchy hooks are a thing of the past, showing us just how much the band has learned about songwriting and structure in just four short years.

    For my next comparison I chose my favorite track on the latest album, “The Winter Day Declining” and “Cities Beneath”, my favorite track on their 2012 effort ‘Newly Risen, How Bright You Shine”. Again with “The Winter Day Declining” we have another soft, minimalist style build up with synths occupying the majority of the soundstaging amidst building cello, light offerings of keyboard and an occasional cymbal tap here and there. As the track picks up a head of steam and fully comes to fruition we experience an overload of sound as guitar clashes with cello for center staging in an overpowering yet blissful calm. Meanwhile with “Cities Beneath” our ears are met by a full on attack of raw guitar driven post-rock, occasionally making way to let drumming shine through during brief moments of the song’s low key moments. What ultimately sets this track apart for me from the rest of the album is the strong finish that includes some chanting vocals and screams that compliment the music perfectly. The most distinct difference between these two tracks is that we notice with “The Winter Day Declining” that there isn’t one one instrument that dominates the sound spectrum, whereas with “Cities Beneath” lives and dies on a full on assault of guitar layers.

    Lastly I wanted to compare two tracks that share a lot of similarities in structure, purpose and really are just two tracks that stand out above the others around them, so I chose to compare “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” with “Heroes and Ghosts”, the title track from last year’s release. With “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” we’re induced with a slow build up that covers over half of the song’s seven minute duration before being treated to a strong finish of spiraling crescendos, cymbal crashing and a dominate guitar that feels like a throwback to the band’s earlier years, albeit not nearly as raw and far more controlled. With “Heroes and Ghosts” we’re also given about a three and a half-minute build up before things start picking up, but when listening to the songs sequentially back to back you’ll immediately recognize that even though the two tracks share similar parallels, the pacing on “Heroes and Ghosts” is much quicker than it should be and the heavy breakdown the track works towards, while immediate and overbearing,  simply doesn’t have the lasting impact nor does it feel as smooth as the breakdown found in the newer of the two songs. For what it’s worth however, “Heroes and Ghosts” does outclass “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” in the outro department.

    I make these comparisons and breakdowns because to truly understand what This Patch of Sky has become, you have to understand where they’ve been. Individually it is very difficult to pick apart their albums because the band simply knows how to deliver a damn fine record in relatively short time spans. However when you start comparing the new to the old, you quickly realize how the band has improved upon flaws that wouldn’t otherwise be audible without making these comparisons. Obviously the difference from the first album to their latest album is night and day, but even the differences between the last two albums are distinct and noticeable as well.

    I think what sells me the most on this self-titled album is that unlike last year’s ‘Heroes and Ghosts’, this album is complimented with a lead-in album that makes the further progression in the band’s ever changing sound not nearly as dramatic. If you break down TPOS’ catalog, you realize there is a turning point where the band’s sound blossomed so significantly that it likely caught listeners off guard the first time around. Their catalog works best in pairs, as their first two albums synergize well with complimentary styles, as do their last two albums. With their first two release, TPOS looked to blow the listener away and melt ears with raw guitar work, overbearing heaviness and emotional yet somewhat easily digestible songs. Over their last two albums we’ve watched the band evolve with a more methodical, purpose driven sound complete with complex overtones and emotion that sustain over several tracks rather than just drift from song to song. These two vastly different styles had a clashing point, that being the jump from 2012’s ‘Newly Risen, How Bright You Shine’ and last year’s ‘Heroes & Ghosts’.

    With ‘This Patch of Sky’, that clashing point has is non-existent as anyone familiar with the band’s scope of work should have known that their sound was heading in this direction. Maybe not. Maybe I’m just a little too privileged. I remember the first time guitarist Kit Day messaged me through Facebook absolutely stoked about practicing with their new cello player Alex Abrams. Even though I knew what the band was cooking up with their self titled, I think even I’m a little taken back by how damn well they put together all the pieces. There is no doubt in my mind that Alex’s contributions to the band’s sound will be what will make or break this album for a lot of people, it’s simply far too predominate not to be. You’d have to be crazy to not see how dynamic the band has become simply by adding one instrument.

    There isn’t much else for this reviewer to say. This album is awesome from start to finish. A breath of fresh air? Your damn right. This Patch of Sky continue to set ridiculously high standard for themselves and never stop striving to push their limits as musicians. “The Winter Day Declining” remains the high point of the album for me with it’s hypnotic textures of serene calmness under overtones of gut wrenching agony.

If there was ever an album that warranted a six month grace period before reviewing, this would likely be it. In all honesty after a dozen listens I’m not even sure if I’ve managed to take in everything this album has to offer. I’ve struggled immensely to put my feelings about this album into words. Worth the wait? Definitely. The band’s best work? Easily. The high point of their career? I doubt it.  A 2014 must listen? Without question.

 

tags: ambient instrumental post-rock rock cinematic cinematic rock instrumental rock postrock Eugene

Foofer Friday: Glaswegians – Glaswegians

7Oh3Kjg-2glasThese past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me. I just started writing for Echoes and Dust, which is how I found this band, Glaswegians.

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the band Glaswegians wasn’t actually from Glasgow. This misleading band hails from British Columbia. Sneaky hosers.

The album, however, was far from disappointing, and it’s just as sneaky. You think the intro is going to be very dark and gloomy until you realize that the tempo is slowly picking up. It’s so smooth and so well done, it’s impressive to see something so difficult to pull off in a band’s debut ep.

The song as a whole sounds like the soundtrack to a mystery novel that takes place on a train, which seems to be a sort of a theme, recurring in ‘Avoirdupois’. I think you can hear an actual train, too. Have you been around a train lately? If not, let me remind you of what they are like: They are beasts. Low grumblings of sheer power, forces to be reckoned with. An unyielding momentum that is captured perfectly in this album.

And when they aren’t making the latest train murder mystery movie soundtrack, they’re showing their musical prowess with more traditional means, with soaring guitars and calming soundscapes. The high are just as calming as the lows, the lows are just as rewarding as the highs, and the snozberries taste like snozberries!

With outstanding instrumentalists and perfect recording quality, there’s no way you can go wrong. Nothing sounds out of place, nothing sounds like it’s dominating your headphones. It hits all the right notes with me, both literally and figuratively.

This album will be released later this year, but you can stream the first two tracks on their bandcamp page.