Sunday, May 11, 2014

add 1023 gregor samsa

Gregor Samsa has released enough albums at this point to know that nothing helps stand out from a crowd than defying expectations at least a bit. So while Rest on the face of it, especially given the art work involved, seems like it would be restrained, somewhat gloom-tinged, epic post-rock filtered through the lens of groups like Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! -- and there's definitely an element of that -- it works against those expectations as much as confirms them. In part this is due to the vocals, so a song like "Ain Leuh," while it could almost be an outtake from Rock Action thanks to the violins and soft keyboards and the like, has an almost sweetly thoughtful feeling, a little bit of calm indie rock amid an equally calm but somewhat different sonic background. But the greater sense of difference between the more explosive side of the sound is in that very lack of explosiveness -- it's more like a rich build of warmth track for track that intentionally holds back from being a walloping epic, with drums minimal or often absent, while rhythm comes from piano or other instruments. The resultant sense of suspension in space -- especially audible on "Jeroen Van Aken," where the vocals softly echo over a deep bassline, a combination of close intimacy and distant threat, but present throughout much of the album -- results in a rich listen that gets more powerful as it goes, and by the time of the combination of piano, strings and theremin which closes "Pseudonyms" helps to make the group's work be its own thing rather than something easily aligned to one style or another. A rare thing still, it seems.


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