Waking Aida‘s Eschaton was one of our favorite post-rock albums of last year, as well as a member of our Happiest Music Chart. The band’s second effort, Full Heal, is just as accomplished, albeit a bit more serious-minded.
The thing we appreciate most about Waking Aida is its sense of fun. The album begins with the sound of children, then three big post-rock chords, before breaking into a funky groove. At 1:21, the music stops for couple seconds to catch its breath – then off to the races again. But wait ~ at 2:45, another shift, this one to a languid breeze of an interlude. stretching another three minutes before the guest cello appears.
Whenever the band changes things up, we lean forward. And while there seem to be fewer instruments on the new album, there are just as many big moments. Single “Blue Shelled” is well chosen, as it hops along merrily from tempo to tempo without missing a beat, borrowing the template of the opening track by stopping at 4:24 before introducing its catchiest bass rhythm. And as it did on the previous song (and album), Waking Aida hides the finest moments at the end of tracks, in this case the final 1:50, when all of the elements come together. But the album’s biggest shift is found at the center, with the whispery voiceover that launches the melancholy “A Sort of Calm”. We’d love to hear more of this approach, as dynamic contrast always gets noticed; in this case, a few poetic words set the tone for the entire track.
Math rock tendencies abound, as does the band’s keen ability to shift from live to electronic drums (especially noteworthy on “Day-Glo Forest).” There’s plenty to keep the listener interested. The only downside is that the violin, so integral to last year’s first impression, has gone missing; bring it back, we say! The more instruments, the merrier, and the merrier the instruments, the better.
For much more on the band and the album, we recommend Hannah Morgan’s excellent ArcTanGent Festival review at Echoes & Dust. It’s clear this band is just getting started, and we’re eager to hear where it turns next! (Richard Allen)