Many post-rock bands incorporate strings and horns in their setup, but few make these a central part of their compositions. Fewer still incorporate an entire mini-orchestra. This is what sets Moscow’s I Will Kill Chita apart from the pack. On Evil Bear Boris, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether the quintet (which already includes cello) is joined by violin, another cello, sax, tuba, trombone, trumpet and french horn, or the other way around. The results are alluring, melodic and full. In retrospect, it’s no surprise that the band’s first EP was titled Risk, but the risk pays off here.
Now add the fact that the band’s album begins with a 23-minute track. Yes, you read that right. No single-length salvo here. “Point of No Return” is the perfect title for this piece, as there’s no coming back from such an experiment. Beginning with Batman bass and Yes synths, the track then morphs into a series of movements. The first begins two minutes after the overture, introducing a wonderfully propulsive main theme, dotted with double-note blasts, but not on guitar. Patiently waiting in the wings, the guitars enter the foreground a couple minutes later, this time dueling with jazzy piano, horns and bass, bringing to mind the Pink Panther theme. The band is playful and loose, seemingly effortless in its transitions. Is this post-rock? If so, it’s unlike any post-rock we’ve ever heard. (Some may be thinking Mono, but Mono is more serious and romantic, while I Will Kill Chita is fun.) The double note blasts, returning in the seventh minute, expand and change octaves, growing higher and more expressive with each passing second. The ninth minute is orchestral heaven; the tenth is slow and pensive; the thirteenth introduces a host of new themes. And just before the fifteenth – BOOM! The guitars are coming, the guitars are coming! From this point on, huge riffs alternate with silences. Near the end, everything falls pleasantly apart – hands slip from strings, instruments fall on the floor. But then the Gnesin State Musical College Choir enters for the brief finale. Hearing their voices is like being served dessert after dessert. We suspect this track kills in concert.
After this, I Will Kill Chita really didn’t need to record any other tracks, but we’re glad they did. The remaining four tracks demonstrate the band’s ability to work on a smaller scale. All are solid, but the best are the catchy (instrumental) chorus of “Alles Unter Kontrolle” (yes, it is under control), and the energetic rock vibe of closer “The Music Will Play In Your House But You Won’t Hear It” (at last, a post-rock title!). This final, somewhat experimental piece demonstrates that the band can in fact rock with raucous abandon. The accelerating segment may even cause some to form a mosh pit.
Available in every format (cassette, vinyl, disc and digital), Evil Bear Boris will make a fine addition to every post-rock fan’s collection – even if it isn’t exactly post-rock! We’re pretty sure that the above image has been photoshopped, because otherwise fans are going to receive either a very small record or some mutant-sized raspberries. Bear not included with purchase. (Richard Allen)