When I was a child, playing with a friend, my mother once exclaimed, “how can two people make so much noise?” I had forgotten this question until I heard Finnish duo NYOS, the post-rock duo that sounds a quartet (although guitarist Tom Brooke may have six hands). Drummer Tuomas Kainulainen plays the other lead role, intensely energetic, pounding with aplomb, switching time signatures without warning, savaging the calfskins and wood.
Nature is the band’s second album, continuing the black-and-white cover theme of Vltava and of last year’s single “Youth.” Any one of these six tracks could be a single, which is more than one can say of most albums of any kind. Each provides a perfect distillation of the post-rock/math rock sound, with every element intact. “Haikaru” goes rapid-fire in its final minute, super-charging the sound with additional bass in only the last 15 seconds. “Kelo” introduces chugging metal in the middle and massive riffs in the end. When all is distilled to its essence ~ a band, a sound, a song ~ there’s no time to waste. Sure, there’s a quiet part here and there ~ for example, the tension-building opening of “LAS”, the only segment long enough to permit a bathroom break. But in general, Nature revels in the loud and slightly less loud. It’s not clear how this might be performed live, but if this sound can be replicated in concert, it probably kills.
“Was That a Lion” is Kainulainen’s showcase, the switch-ups and fast pace of the edges reminiscent of J.K. Simmons’ grueling tests in Whiplash. Not that there’s a pillow in the middle; the track is only five minutes long. The title track is the catchiest, with a steady tempo and the album’s most memorable melodic line, veering to the post-rock side of the equation. It’s not surprising that the duo has chosen this as the entry point, although the full nature of this hugely entertaining pair is only revealed when the full album is played. The heat alone is enough to melt the ice and snow. (Richard Allen)