Comity – The Journey is Over Now

I was going to make a point, but then I realized it was better made by Emerson, so I’ll quote him instead:

“We are like children who repeat by rote the sentences of grandames and tutors, and, as they grow older, of the men of talents and character they chance to see—painfully recollecting the exact words they spoke; afterwards, when they come into the point of view which those had who uttered these sayings, they understand them and are willing to let the words go.”

I feel there is no good reason for most repetition in music. The same song could have been written in several billion slightly different ways. The genius of Comity’s The Journey is Over Now is that, in one listen, you seem to be hearing each of those billion different ways at the same time. They can pull apart their own songs from as many different directions as there are neurons. This shakes off the incidental, and keeps the feeling raw and honest. They throw everything they can at you: sometimes it’s a sharp, banjo-clang distortion with pinpoint, Dillinger Escape Plan style starts and stops. Sometimes it’s sand-in-the-gears slowdowns that yield to withdrawn acoustic passages. Throughout everything, there’s a vaguely familiar Coalesce-style metalcore feeling, especially in Part II.

But Part I (yes, that’s its title) does it best, starting with feedback and layers of deep groans which remind me of the vocals from Neurosis’ Falling Unknown. When it gets going, it’s like several different perspectives on the same rhythm being presented simultaneously, the musicians equivalent of a cubist painting. The best part, about 4:40 in, is how the song awakes from its acoustic melancholy with what feels like triumphant emergence from wreckage. The way the melody maintains a sense of soaring triumph, over wide stretch of time, without having repeated any particular rhythm, the way it gets refreshed from different angles, before tumbling into chaos, then into spacious sludge then layerd over with guitar tone transpositions that wander in and out of key is something to behold.

Part III is a bit of a more straightforward instrumental track, with dualing acoustic and electric instrumentation that steadily escalates in intensity. A post-rock band might make something like this the centerpiece of their album, but for Comity it feels almost like filler. Part IV is the 22 minute behemoth that ends the album. It’s much like Part II before descending into what sounds like a sludge merry-go-round, and ending with layered screams similar to Part I.

Despite being wonderfully ridiculous with structural experimentation, Comity sports a sound that’s probably familiar to anyone who has listened to technically precise genres of metal featuring a -core suffix. What’s truly original is their ability to simultaneously maintain senses of chaos and continuity, with just enough distance between the two that your brain is joyfully engrossed in the task of resolving the one to the other.

Meniscus – War of Currents

There’s always a risk that you’ll give a post-rock band it’s chance, and they will just dither for ten minutes, then suddenly you realize you’re on Facebook and the track ended a while ago. The tragedy of so many post-rock acts is there us just enough to lead you on—they do atmospheric and suggestive so damn well—but then it never comes to anything.

So maybe I should have been suspicious of Room 3327, the opening track to Meniscus’ album War of Currents, but it was so fucking cool. It opens with the a computerized voice quoting from a stunning Nikolas Tesla interview with Colliers Magazine in 1926. Over ambience and a lonely drumbeat, the voice lists off several remarkably accurate predictions, then gives way to guitar notes that sound like lights leading into a mysterious building. The ambience is beautiful and suffused with a cave-chill cold, which grows and widens into aurora borealis streaks which seem to chew on the entire universe.

Then suddenly it’s over. Too soon, before anything bad could happen, like it was too much to live up to. My fears don’t come to pass until the next track, 130.

It’s an eye-of-the-tiger opening, that changes just in time and transitions to hopeful step-ups of light which clang and blend with each other before tumbling down and starting again. Then it happens: the underwhelming transcendent post-rock climax.

Or what is supposed to be the climax, you get four brisk strums of the same chord, then a gap, where presumably everyone’s looking at one another and awkwardly waiting for the same boring rhythm to come round again. This is what I fear. Thankfully they recover, and their recovery is more defining of the album than the post-rock-itis- you get a little ascending and retreating waterwheel guitar riff, backed by what sound like pipes notching up from the ground spilling ambient light over everything around them.

This is what they are good at: there’s a beautiful, cool-as-icewater feel to the ambience that can radiate out of angular rhythms, and you get it throughout the album. There are a few patches of post-rock-itis which aren’t so bad as they tend to be engulfed by the beautiful ambience. At its best, it can instill so much hope in you that something great is around the corner. War of Currents won’t live up that hope, but won’t betray it either.

The Fierce & The Dead-If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe

Wow. Sometimes it sounds like Merzbow. Sometimes it sounds like Joshua Tree era U2. Sometimes it sounds like Bill Frisell and Flea are jamming out. This album is the polar opposite of boring. Though it touches on many genres If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe draws in reoccuring musical themes often enough to provide a sense of continuity absent from many more simplistic albums. I fervently hope The Fierce & The Dead continue to push themselves to make music this unique and interesting.

The Appleseed Cast-Sagarmatha

The Appleseed Cast Sagarmatha:

These guys are as poppy as you can get and still be considered post-rock. Theres tons of chiming guitars and loud quiet loud dynamics. They would be a pleasant enough, if unexceptional Explosions in The Sky rip-off if it weren’t for the vocals. The singers vocals and lyrics would be mediocre but bearable if they were clean. Unfortunately the vocals are layered with tons of crappy effects, and completely kill every track they appear on. These guys need to lose the vocal effects and update their musical style if they want to stay relevant for much longer.

Rating: 8/15 delay pedals

Russian Circles-Station

Russian Circles Station:

Post-rock with a metal influence. This album attempts to get away from the loud-quiet-loud dynamic present in much post-rock. It succeeds more than it fails, but there are many moments that they should have just hit the distortion box and went for that loud epic ending we crave.

Rating: 11/15 keep at it points