This is well and truly a “single”, given that it’s the only track by this band that I’ve been able to find, even though I’ve known about them for about two years now. I’ve mentioned it before as an example of some fierce musical construction, and I’ve been expecting a debut album month after month. I can only hope that they’re taking their time to craft one of the most engaging post-metal/shoegaze/post-rock albums ever, because judging by this track alone there’s most definitely more than enough potential for that. There’s enough heat and fury to scorch the most jaded ear, and it hits you over and over and over, with an exquisite, mind-boggling ability to build-up and deliver absolutely savage peaks. Mark my words, when this album finally comes out, it ought to be earth-shaking. Enjoy!
We have some old friends back today, with a double feature. I wrote about Colaris’ debut EP – “The Disclosure” – over a year ago, and since then they’ve been very busy, releasing a great LP in 2012, called Renewal and a very exciting split album just this month, with their friends from Ampersphere. Jessie Schmidt, the guitarist in Colaris, was very kind to answer a few of my questions, so here we go, with a mini-interview and a few thoughts I have about their debut LP.
ZaRecords: Here’s my favorite question to ask: what’s the story behind your band name?
Jessie Schmidt:. It`s a fantasy word. We just wanted to have a name which had different sides to it: a kind of positive/negative thing, something cold and dark and something really hot and shimmering, shining. It`s like the common thread through all of our songs.
ZR: Your songs sound more “grown” than “composed” – what’s your creative process? Do you have a distinct pattern for constructing material?
JS: You’re right, man. Most of our songs are written in jam sessions in our rehearsal room.
We love to jam for hours and hours on different parts. We demo them, listen at home and jam again. Sometimes I write small pieces at home but mostly one riff or phrase. I like to jam with my loopstation to create some basic basslines and start to build up different guitar layers over that.
The Renewal LP feels substantially different in layering and general esthetic than The Disclosure EP, it feels much more patient, much more introspective, a lot closer to the wide, reverberating spaces of post-rock than the band’s previous sound. That’s not to say that the music is lacking in vigor, not in the least – the rhythm section is alive with the deep rumble, much like heartbeat, and the guitar is just as fierce and ready to pounce as always, but rather than providing jagged riff structures, the variations have moved to the tone realm, subtly and maturely.
ZR: Do you enjoy playing live, or are you more at home in the studio? Tell me a funny / weird / entertaining story from a concert.
JS: Sure we love to play live, but playing in a three piece band means there is a lot of “Murphy’s law” going on on stage. For example, my looper starts living its own live on stage. The MacBook with the live samples starts living its own live as well. At a show in Belgium there was no time for a sound check. So we had to build everything up and do a fast line check, after the first band had finished. But my whole setup gave up the ghost. We changed everything from amp to cables and cabinets, only to find out that it was only one (!!!) cable which was not correctly plugged into my effect board. You can imagine how “funny” the rest of the show was for me – nervous as hell and totally pissed off. I think it was our worst gig ever.
Managing a tonal range the likes of which Colaris offers takes a lot of machinery, which is obvious from a multitude of photos the band have posted on their Facebook page from various concerts. The sheer number of foot switches, pedals, cables and whatnot which go into their live set is intimidating to behold, and it’s a real feat to manage making all of it harmonize, but more than that, it’s a treat to hear it put to such good use, as nothing sounds superfluous and cheap. It’s very easy for a musician to hide behind a wall of effects which turn every simple not into a cascade of sound and I’m glad to say that I detect no such shenanigans with Colaris. The effects enhance rather than supplement, and that’s truly refreshing.
ZR: Your music seems to have more of a “post-metal” vibe to it – reminds me very pleasantly of bands such as Cult of Luna or Isis. Have you considered adding vocals, or do you feel they wouldn’t bring anything essential to the sound? Do you try and avoid labels like music genre and such, when talking about your music?
JS: Julian and I have a huge metal background. He listens to a lot of black metal and doom bands like Rorcal, The Tuins of Beverast, Paysage d’Hiver, Addaura, Alda or Ash borer. I played in several metal and hardcore bands before. But i`m also addicted to old ’70s psychedelic and progressive bands like Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Camel or Tangerine Dream. We don`t avoid any genre labels, we are happy with our sound and that we create the music that we have in our hearts and minds. Speaking just on my behalf, I don`t want to use any vocals for our music – it is based on personal experiences, feelings and impressions of life. It also offers a lot more space for each instrument to unfold.
The music takes a certain frame of mind to enjoy, it takes a bit of work to unfold, which I find pleasing. There’s quite a bit of tension being allocated between the three instruments in a very balanced way, a very fair distribution of eloquence. I can see why, with such a tight system, it would be hard to imagine integrating anything else – there’s really no need. The album washes over the listener quickly, compressing time, and the record name shows just how good of a choice it is – one feels refreshed after an attentive run-through of this LP.
ZR: What’s your relationship with the music industry nowadays? Do you follow a more traditional model – record label, contracts etc. – or do you rely on digital distribution, self-promotion and so on?
JS: We love the “Do it yourself” way. It means a lot more work, but it`s a passion thing. We released our first EP by ourselves. It`s easier to make some hand numbered CDs or to use different artworks when you’re doing it all by yourself. But releasing vinyl by yourself is too expensive, so we decided to work with WHOOAAARG and Revolvermann Records for the “Renewal” 2×12.
Currently we are working with Revolvermann Records and Puzzle Records together for our upcoming split. Both are small labels and really really nice guys. For the split we will also have European distribution via Broken Silence Music.
ZR: Thank you so much for your time and detailed answers! I really hope to meet you guys live one day!
JS: Sure, we’d love that too!
I hope you guys enjoy the interview, but especially the LP. Here it is, all of it, off Bandcamp!
A few months ago I was gushing about a cold, calculated, intellectual, and yet ferocious and fantastically talented act called Animals as Leaders – more specifically about their first album, masterminded and realized, almost single-handendly, by guitar hero Tosin Abasi on his eight-string guitar. Ever since, the unexpected success of this first album has led to the recruiting of two more members to the AAL team – drummer Matt Garstka and second eight-string guitarist Javier Reyes. Mestis is Reyes’ side project, issuing this first EP last year and reminding me just why I liked AAL’s first album so much and confirming, if there was ever any doubt, that he’s a perfect match for the extended format of the main band.
That’s enough band history however – this short but very powerful offering will take a bit of eloquence on my part, as a would-be critic, just as it unveils itself to the listener’s ears with a wonderful and rare balance of virtuosity and expressiveness. Comprised of five songs spanning very diverse moods – from the intense, gathering storm of Te Mato, to the breezy, slightly sentimental Olvidala – this EP is special, if for nothing else, for the amazing ability to show patience and restraint in such a short format, in which most performers would probably choose to dazzle at any cost. The intention behind this record seems quite far removed from hollow showmanship though, in spite of the lofty technical proficiency displayed by Javier Reyes at all times. His style, although demanding and uncompromising, is marked by a certain ability to contain the potential onslaught of notes and techniques within a very hard, structured shell of melody and expression. Thus, the music avoids turning into pure math or, arguably worse, a garbled cavalcade of flamboyant demonstrations, and finds its foundation in the subtle and yet completely transparent compositional honesty which comes with love for one’s own songs rather than one’s skill.
Javier Reyes composes with great patience, refusing to cram too much in any given song – the themes follow each-other with great clarity, seamlessly, and as a result, the songs which contain them end up crystallized in shapes which seem to me of absolutely immense strength and brilliance, in a process which my imagination wants to believe is not unlike carving gemstones into rhomboid shapes with the sheer power of one’s will. It’s rare that I get such an epic feeling of control and structure from music, especially in the case of a record barely longer than a quarter of an hour. And yet that’s all it takes Mr. Reyes to convey his spine-tingling vision of how sound can be brought as near as possible to solidity. The name of the EP is exquisitely chosen, given this overall mood – the basal ganglia acts as a very powerful control element of the vertebrate brain – responsible for a variety of functions ranging from motor control to “action selection” – all of which seem to relate to the razor’s edge between voluntary choice and force of habit.
I think it’s pointless to go too deep into the interpretation of the relationship between the record’s name and the nature of the music. There is but one point to be made here – in the war between the structuring and the expressive minds, Javier Reyes has achieved a position of neutrality, or rather, has risen above the petty conflict and has strenuously forged a formidable hybrid, almost intimidating in its stability and shimmering clarity. Enjoy!
Hi everyone! I’m sorry I pulled such a disappearing act during the past few weeks, I’ve just been very caught up in the holiday preparations and I haven’t had time to immerse myself in a lot of music. However, I’ve got something special planned for you all today. Is it a mixtape? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a big fat cliche heading straight for you, hopeful in the desire to entertain! It’s the ZaRecords Top 12 tracks (and albums) of 2012!
The songs are not arranged in any particular order, other than following the vague, heartfelt guidelines for making a mixtape. The top is not, thus, based on any objective factor, save for the fact that all of these albums and songs have been released in 2012. It covers, as you’ll see, very diverse musical areas, from experimental, to jazz, to metal and rock and so on. I hope it proves to be an eloquent and interesting retrospective of the year, and, why not, a bit of an attempt to define certain trends currently observable on the musical scene.
There’s also a game to be played! Send me your own tops (3, 5, 10, 9 3/4, I don’t care how many tracks, just that it’s a well thought out top for 2012) and I’m sure there will be some lovely opportunities for debate and expansion of musical horizon, and even some (sur)prizes! I’m not saying anything more. Who’s game? I hope you’ve had a wonderful year, my friends, and I wish you a prosperous and harmonious 2013!
Some years ago, my country’s mainstream music had been overtaken by a new wave of performers, drawing from an oriental musical tradition. These sonorities have since been associated not only with a more-or-less stereotypical idea of middle-eastern culture, but rather with a particular type of very base, very aggressive subculture in Romania. It was a great disservice to the source material. The other day, I have stumbled upon music which catalyzes freedom in this respect.
Ibrahim Maalouf’s music is difficult to approach. If ever I was faced with sounds which make me think of alchemy, these are them, because there is no area he will not cross, there is no reference he will not make, there are no limits on his staggering root system – from hip-hop to post-rock, from jazz to metal, this album moves through all of these as if they were water. But this is not music to be dissected in terms of influence. This is music which will simply not allow itself a minute to rest, it has some of the most urgent, most dynamic structures I’ve ever heard.
The album is a push, a struggle, not without humor and detachment, but of unrelenting intensity and creative drive, forging together all of its elements into an alloy of unique and highly peculiar properties. When left alone, it resonates. When struck, it releases torrents of energy which it then amplifies over and over, emitting heat and light and sizzling, only to swallow it all up again and instantly cool down. It’s jazz, reforged, notes welded on metal sheet music. It smells of acetylene and cardamom, it tastes like licking a nine volt battery, with a hint of pistachio.
Ibrahim Maalouf’s trumpet is always accompanied by a subtle percussive whisper, that fine, human little sound the brass makes right before the air stream makes it vibrate properly. As much as the notes themselves, that whisper is what makes me feel that this is so much more than his instrument. Truth be told, I’ve always had a fear – I almost want to call it a prejudice right now – that the trumpet has very little subtlety. My impression started being eroded when I heard Nils Petter Molvaer for the first time, but it has been completely shattered by Ibrahim Maalouf. The level of expression and the range he can give this instrument is simply remarkable. This is his voice, and he speaks well.
I really hope you enjoy these samples… Diagnostic is an album quite capable of leaving me speechless. I’m surprised I’ve been able to write as much. Enjoy.