Cymbals; Big Mouth Struck Again

Surprises abound in life, if you’re doing it right, or even if you’re not. But everyone wants them to happen, even though they know that the outcome is out of our control.

A minor example: I just discovered that I live not five minutes’ walk from the Salford Lads’ Club, immortalised by the Smiths in the sleeve photo of The Queen Is Dead.

Now, I – like a million other pasty youths – had that photo on my wall when I was a youth. So when I walked past the club quite by mistake, the otherwordliness of the shock was very real, though quickly tempered by the gang of German tourists recreating the famous picture.

Today’s first surprise: Cymbals are not the first band to construct songs with a knowing, polyrhythmic bent, but they are the first for a while to do it with such conspicuous restraint.

Where others may have allowed such a tightly coiled premise rush away from them into generic snappy-disco-pop-rock territory, Cymbals have forged a much more interesting and even thoughtful sound.

Single Printed Name starts sparsely and the band are smart enough to temper their intentions until the very end, when the song explodes into the free-wheeling clatter it always promised.

Before then though, the song diverts our attention in the same manner that watching a leopard slowly stalk an antler might: we’re all just waiting for the slow, slinky movement to stop and the explosive, exciting bit to start. Kind of like life, like, yeah? Great stuff.


Years Of Rice And Salt, and Post-Rock’s Beautiful Quandary

Post-Rock: the strange, febrile cousin of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I’ve pondered on its relevance before without really coming to a conclusion. Initially, I put this indecision down to sheer flightiness, but have now realised that this non-committal wandering is actually quite post-rock in itself.

You see, the genre is wrapped in a quandary fully formed by its very existence. Post rock takes the guitar/drums/bass template of every rock band and stretches it into a wider, distressed, more distorted being. And this is both its downfall and its saving grace.

Here’s the one accusation most often levelled at Post-rock: that it all sounds the same: overlong, unstructured and self-indulgent. The truth, I think, is that all these complaints are valid; and also that these traits are actually the point.

So yes, some of Years Of Rice and Salt’s songs are reminiscent of other post-rock outfits’. Similarly, all of Boards Of Canada‘s albums sound virtually identical, and I love them for it: creating one sound, and repeating it, pulsing it and nurturing that one feeling on and on, not allowing it to drop or end.

Years of Rice and Salt // Occasional Flashes Of Warmth

Thus, YORAS‘s songs should sound almost just as you’d imagine, by definition, and for good reason. A song like  Occasional Flashes Of Warmth might not stun you with novelty (as such), but if that’s what you’re looking for, then go and dive into a pile of Captain Beefheart albums.

These songs are supposed to invoke feelings, create situations and breathe life into your daydreams, not pull up trees and punch you on the nose. YORAS use their defined palette of sound and attack with all the trickery and skill that they have learned. It works, and you’ll be grateful.

*Sorry there was no new band yesterday: these last few days have been brightened by broken bones and various illnesses. I’m better now, honest.