Who?: Oxford, England instru-prog trio.
1) The Fans (8:10)
-There's been nothing but guitar feedback, and I'm already thinking- "Shit, they're only a three piece?" It's huge, tuneful feedback, and then some jazzy drums come in.
-Only three minutes in, it's apparent that these guys are pretty good at the ol' bait-n-switch. After a melodic buildup, shit gets really dissonant for a second, with a guitar part that actually sounds like vocals being sung through a megaphone, and then-JAZZ GUITAR. Kind of reminds me of Karate a bit.
-After a big buildup where the guitar actually plays a riff a few times, there's a release. Sounds like there's a string quartet in the background. We've gone spy-rock. Opening credits music.
-Back to another buildup, where the strings get a bit sassy. Guitarist starts soloing a bit in the back, and it shreds.
-Oh shit, tempo change. FRANTIC.
-I could honestly do without the strings in the background.
After 8 minutes, I'm going to have to give this one a RIFF. It's an extremely multi-faceted piece, that although relies a bit on the buildup/release trick, throws enough curveballs in there to keep me surprised. Except the strings.
2) Nought I (1:53)
-YES. Fuzz-soaked guitar.
-FUCK. 30 seconds in, the rest of the band kicks in, and they kick in hard. Like, kick to your chest that sends you flying across the room hard. This riff is evil.
Consider this one another RIFF. The song serves the purpose a great instrumental on an album with vocals would. The closest comparison I can think of being "Electric" off of Boris' Pink album. It gets in, punches you in the face, then gets out before it's just bragging about it.
3) Cough Cap Kitty (3:13)
-Well, the strings are back. I'm beginning to wonder how frequently they'll be around.
-Reversing the previous dynamics, things start loud then get quiet, and then borderline Reniassance Fair-y
-Eesh, letting the strings take the melody entirely makes things sound a bit goofy.
- The guitar takes things back for a tantalizing second, before relenquishing things back to the strings again.
Cough up their first FLUB. This song treads a bit too close to "Hey, classical music can ROCK too!" territory for me. That, and I'm picturing it being too appropriate for some sort of "rock opera" that you may see on Broadway. All I'm seeing is jazz hands during this one.
4) Red Rag (7:04)
-First song with a bass intro. Nice.
-Around the bass intro, the rest of the band drops in. The strings return, except seem to be used for more chaotic purposes than before. I approve.
-Also, the first song that seems to revolve around some sort of set structure. There's something that I guess could be considered a chorus, or would refrain be the more appropriate term?
-Nearly three minutes in, shit gets inhumanely loud. Fuck yeah.
-Scratch my previous note, the second half of this song gets way different, offering a gradual buildup that ends with a great, wiry guitar part.
-But then, it just kind of repeats for the rest of the song. The outro more or less takes up nearly a third of the song's running time.
RIFF. Kept me guessing the entire time.
5) Goddess Awakes: I. The Tricks Of Strangers, II. Locker, III. Widow's Lament (10:47)
-Bracing for the multi-part suite.
-Starts off sounding like video game boss music. With horns. At least it's not the strings again.
Feel like I should be dodging fireballs or some other projectile weapon.
-I fucking love this band's drummer. Busts some total Max Weinberg 7 shit whenever he has room.
-Things got quiet. I think I've moved on to the second movement.
-Yep. A slightly ambient section? Sounds like a movement transition part to me.
-Second section was definitely a lot more low key. But, here comes some noise again, so I think I've made it to the final section.
-I never thought I'd ever have to say anything about "math-rock guitars with a string overlay," but I just did.
First two movements were pretty sweet, but the third didn't really go anywhere. Two out of three isn't bad though, so RIFF.
6) Stain Stones (7:33)
- Woah. Jazz. We have horns.
- AND WOODWINDS. Clarinet solo! This kind of reminds me of the first time I listened to the new Kayo Dot album, except I'm not bored.
- The band takes things back over, as if telling the horns to calm down a bit. Then the guitar kicks everyone's ass with a solo that crams as much rad into it as it can.
- Things actually get pretty, five minutes in. It's a rare moment on this album so far, where everyone just seems content to lay back a bit.
- Things speed up a bunch near the end, kind of like in the first track.
RIFF. I actually enjoyed the more jazz inflected part that served as the first third of the song, and the rest of the song proved that Nought don't force themselves to overstuff everything they do.
7) All The Time Ha-Ha (3:55)
- Uh-oh. I'm sensing a bit of a repeat of the third track. JAZZ HANDS STRIKE BACK.
Yeah, I'm going to have to call FLUB on this one. It doesn't really go anywhere, and seems perpetually stuck in frantic showtune mode.
8) Heart Stops Twice (5:44)
- There was a sense of foreboding to this song at first, before it exploded into a "LET'S GO ON AN ADVENTURE" soundtrack a minute in.
- Do I hear ghostly female vocals? Operatic?
- Someone had to break out the sitar/koto, didn't they? For a hilariously brief cameo.
- OH FUCK ADVENTURE TIME AGAIN.
- A slight storm of feedback concludes with a brief return to order in the last 30 seconds.
FLUB. I don't know. I'm starting to feel like this band would be a lot better if they ditched their more orchestral leanings. I'm all about ambition, but it's starting to feel a bit like overkill.
9) Nought II (1:41)
-Hoping for more titanic shreddage that the first "Nought" track offered.
-Holy shit. It's the same riff. Minus the snare hits before the huge crash that goes into the rest of the song.
-No really, this is the EXACT same song as track 2. I can't be convinced otherwise.
FLUB. Couldn't they have at least titled it "Nought (Reprise)" or something like that?
10) Ignatius (6:53)
- This song has potential already, because the guitar is just howling like an injured wolf.
- And continuing to do so, again.
- And again.
- OK, sweet. Now it sounds like a power drill.
- Fuck. The strings just had to show up again, didn't they?
They know how to end an album on a good note, I'll give them that. Plus, this song contained some of the most interesting guitar work of the album, despite it's occasional repetitious nature. I'll give it a RIFF.
6 RIFFS vs. 4 FLUBS.
(6 RIFFS/10 TRACKS) x 100% = 60%
So yeah, there were some really good moments on this album, and then there were some really goofy ones that prevented me from being able to handle certain songs on this album. Still, over half of the album was good!