New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

Tag: cinematic

Majestic, Sweepingly Cinematic Instrumentals from Arms of Tripoli

Los Angeles instrumentalists Arms of Tripoli play exuberant, anthemic, frequently cinematic postrock, a swirling, pouncing, enveloping, propulsively percussive mix of guitars, bass, drums and keys. No verse or chorus is ever exactly the same. The music takes on majesty and grandeur as it goes on, with unexpected dynamic shifts that peak out and then hit quieter interludes. Guitarists Jaime Galvez, Michael Bouvet and Robert Bauwens, keyboardist K.C. Maloney, bassist Vic Lazar and drummer George Tseng don’t waste your time with lyrics, they just hit you with the hooks, one after another. More bands should be doing this. Their latest album Dream in Tongues is streaming at their Bandcamp page.

The opening track, Miniature Habitats, opens with an insistent guitar figure over resonant chords, shifts tempos back and forth as the drums kick in and then out, echoing Aussie art-rock legends the Church but with the faux-vintage keyboard voicings that are all the rage in indie circles. Then hits a long, hypnotic vamp and pretty much stays there. All this in just six minutes and thirty seconds: it gives you a good idea of what’s coming.

Velcro Thunder Fuck balances variations on a countryish guitar lick with layers of tinkling keys over a galloping rhythm as the bass shifs around, tremolopicked Mogwai-ish guitar giving way to a more echoey, dreampop-tinged chorus, then back up to the galloping theme. Scraping Skies shifts through even trickier tempos, anthemic guitar countermelodies rising over a midtempo sway, adding layer after layer of guitars and twinkling keys in the background.

Escalator Jazz turns out to be really cool. You think from the circular hook that opens it that it’s going to be a dorky mathrock song, but it comes together mightily on the chorus and from there it’s a big, majestic, atmospheric 6/8 anthem. The band works that same trick a little later with 10th Graders Forever, the most dreampop-flavored track here, and Canna, which eventually winds down to an unselfconsciously pretty art-rock lullaby of sorts.

Snowed In, with its allusions to surf music and spacious chords over nonchalantly galloping drums, is the most ominous of the tracks. Addendum begins with a country guitar lick and then builds to a spacerock theme with layers of distorted, ringing and echoing guitars – while it’s the most metal-ish and dynamically charged track here, it’s far from buffoonish. The final track is one of the simplest and most memorable melodies, a big ELO-ish anthem blended into an opaque, dreampop/postrock background, lush ambience contrasting with guitar snarl and bite.

Unpredictable Cinematic Dreampop-Flavored Instrumentals from Sleepmakeswaves

Listening to Australian postrockers Sleepmakeswaves‘ album And So We Destroyed Everything brings back memories of an Oasis concert at Manhattan Center way back in the late 90s. OK, go ahead and laugh – it was a date night. But the date ended up enjoying the show, so you can extrapolate from there. “Stand by me, this is how it’s gonna be,” Liam Gallagher intoned, and most of the crowd sang along, oblivious to what that meant, or if it meant anything at all, never mind if there might have been any subtext.

Sleepmakeswaves play stadium rock anthems without the vocals. For some people, that might be a dealbreaker: after all, who doesn’t want to pound a couple dozen beers and then bellow along with whatever the band happens to be singing? For the rest of us, Sleepmakeswaves artfully articulates a hypnotic yet very catchy and anthemic sound without having to bother with rhymes like “stand by me/this is how it’s gonna be.” In their own icy way, their songs without words have a psychedelic quality, sort of a stadium rock counterpart to dub reggae with lots of swirly dreampop interludes juxtaposed against quieter passages full of shifting atmospheric tones and gentle but animatedly looping melodies. The album, as well as a dubious remix of the whole thing, is streaming at Bandcamp.

Guitars are the central instruments throughout the eight tracks here, layers and layers of them: jangling, clanging, ringing with a gentle bell-like insistence, then rising to an enveloping swirl or slamming out chords on the beat as a beefy chorus kicks in. There’s also occasional piano and organ in some of the quieter passages as well as synthesized strings and brass that add yet another textural layer to the blustery sonics. Tempos range from straight-up four-on-the-floor to surprisingly tricky; the bass has a growling, gritty tone that cuts through the cloudbanks.

The first track (the song titles can get really long!) sets the stage, a roller coaster ride of long, roaring crescendos juxtaposed with quiet, attractively jangly interludes. They follow that with a lingering vamp that grows into a swaying, punchy anthem. The intriguingly titled Our Time Is Short But Your Watch Is Slow builds gracefully out of atmospheric washes to a pretty, cinematic piano theme and then fades back. Then on the eleven-minute number after that, they work a cinematic theme that shifts elegantly from an eerie, enveloping, reverb-drenched mist that evokes Oz psychedelic legends the Church, to a crunchier, more metal-infused theme that hits a frenzied, hammering peak.

They segue down but quickly back up after that, trebly bass contrasting with keening ebow guitar, then work their way up into a long spacerock number full of loops, drones and backward masking that follows a familiar trajectory, getting grittier as it moves along. An innocuous trip-hop miniature leads into the title track, which builds almost imperceptibly to a catchy, majestic art-rock theme, a leaping bass figure leading the group into a pounding dreampop crescendo. The rest of the band’s similarly colorful, unpredictable catalog is also up at their Bandcamp page.