Electric cello, vibraphone and drums: this original set-up yields a sound that bridges the gap between post-rock and modern composition. The trio’s timbre is fresh and distinctive; after hearing the album, one would be able to recognize their notes at a festival. But lest one think a creative setup is all one needs (tuba, glockenspiel, kettle drums?), these musicians are also incredibly talented. Their tracks are polyrhythmic, lively and fun.
The best place to start (and the band seems to know this) is the combination of “Robespierre’s Crowning” and “Robespierre’s Last Waltz”, which bear the closest thing to a band theme that one can imagine, placed on the cello. As these songs progress, one cannot help but admire their technical expertise. Multiple sections tumble into each other, returning ever-so-often to the core. At one point, the former track falls nearly into silence before emerging with languid jazz – an interlude before the final push. The latter is a bookend of sorts, appearing in the penultimate spot, casting a net across the tracks in between. More abstract than immediate, the track nevertheless offers a variation on the melodies of its predecessor, as if the pages had blown off the stands and the players were covering through improvisation.
Vocals appear on three songs. “Demon Yard Sale” includes a little growling and a few shouted “Ha!”s, but that’s to be expected given the title. The rapid “San Fermin” includes a swift Spanish monologue (blink and it’s gone). But the vocals of “May 1” briefly derail the mood. When an instrumental album is this good, the listener’s mind travels in any direction it pleases; lyrics reduce the possibilities. The track is better from 2:22 on, especially the segment in which the cello takes one speaker and the guitar (our ears were fooled – see comment) takes the other. The late vocals are onomatopoeic, harmonized, and lovely. The album’s only other liability is the font, which screams, “debut!” Fresh sounds deserve a fresh font ~ for more on this topic, we continue to recommend Simon Garfield’s Just My Type.
We’re glad to encounter a new band pushing boundaries without being too esoteric; this is a sound that could catch on, and we hope it does. (Richard Allen)