This is an instrumental album that combines bouncy prog, rock and jazz to create a mind blowing, paradigm shifting experience. It’s near impossible to describe but I will do my best.
Let me begin with the easiest comparisons. The rock side of this group remind me a lot of Alpha Male Tea Party and early TesseracT. It’s prog rock through and through. Odd times, weird phrasings and cyclic patterns that groove and jar awkwardly against the 4/4 clock in your head. Like a tongue twister for your ears. When the chuggy riffs drop, they do so with such a measured focus that it never feels like a shift into metal territory…just a darker thicker consistency. Oh and the grooves….errmergerd..the grooves!
The jazz side of this group is an utterly ridiculous and quite honesty captivating component that will break your brain and reassemble it with an all new appreciation for the craft. The brass noodles and jams like any fusion group would, proficient to the last breath, masterful and playful amidst the giant gritty guitars. There’s scales and modes at work in there which I won’t even begin to pretend to understand and yet it never feels unchained or so loose that listeners will scratch their heads. It’s not strange or foreign sounding and it works. Damn does it work.
Drumming is superb. Not overly complicated all the time thankfully, nor busier than it could to be. Just hit’s the right accents, pushes and pace to suit the song. In saying that, it’s 1000% more involved and technical than most mortals are capable of and this is again an example of mastery in the craft. The rhythms are often meandering in and out of strange time signatures and so the drums lead the listener in where it’s all going with a careful balance between ‘where the actual fuck did the 2 and 4 go’ and ‘oh this grooves hard’.
For a casual or curious listener start with ‘Catacaustic’. The track showcases a good taste of the many moods this album has. There are some genuinely inspired moments in this piece and if it can tease a modest head-bop or foot tap out of you…then this record will absolutely entertain!
‘Arc9’ is a darker, broody rollercoaster that truly surprises when it doesn’t explode where you think it will and ends in exactly the way you hope. Songs can be enjoyed in any order, they each have their own map which twists and turns separately from the next song.
‘Merits’ is a track that caught me off guard for all the right reasons. It’s a track that feels like a playful tug of war between a straight up indie rock band and a free jazz ensemble trading idea’s mid-delivery. It’s just sick.
Production is spot on for this style. Natural and live sounding drums, a sense of real spaces surround the brass, guitars are dead set gnarly when in face-melting mode too. Deep, chunky low tuned riffs that rock and lead breaks and solo’s recalling similar sounds from Meshuggah’s Frederik Thordenal and the great Allan Holdsworth.
Forget that there’s Jazz involved and approach this as a hybrid of weird playful melodies and a slab of low tuned prog riffs with a brass section that’s just as committed to shredding and grooving.
Easily in my top 10 albums this year. Unbelievable.