Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Album Review: Eksi Ekso - Brown Shark Red Lion

A listen to Brown Shark Red Lion will change one's entire view of what post-rock can really accomplish. Eksi Ekso manages to throw together, from what sounds like atypical experimental rubbish, a radically innovative and unexpected piece of work. The Boston, Massachusetts-based group has been known for their interesting instrumentation and unorthodox style, but as I haven't listened to anything prior to the March release, I've been pleasantly surprised by the interesting tonal shifts and overall progression of how each song adds something completely unique and yet relevant to the overall feel of the album.

The first track, "Kills of the Flood Tide", starts off with a strong percussive beat, much reminiscent of something like The Arcade Fire, but as the melody itself begins to progress, an interluded verse changes the entire key, adding tension and harmony. In the bridge section, the graceful, well-orchestrated buildup collaborates with Tom Korkidis' gravelly vocals "We'll still come home to nothing / redraw the lives with lines of light", and create a very moving and cathartic moment, shortly afterwards leading to a decline in volume and rhythm, ending on a short fanfare-esque chorale from a sympathetic brass section.

Meanwhile, "Bellows to Brass Lens", the sixth piece on the record, opens with a melodic strings-with-guitar opening, something very like The Album Leaf or Some By Sea (not post-rock, but a fair comparison). With driving toms, but a lethargic tune from the aforementioned instruments, a melancholic electric guitar sings high chord tones as Korkidis sings sadly, "Petrified, the scene / crashing forth towards me / and they can't take it back / but you'll live it back", loaded words that mesh brilliantly with the oppressive, dredging-yet-inspirational mood of this piece, and this moment resonates with the listener as the song slowly slogs away.

Brown Shark Red Lion is a really quite unique listen. The band pulled this record together quite nicely, with lots of instrumental and tonal variance without much change to the overall feeling that was presented throughout the album. Without patience, I can honestly say that it's very hard to listen to. However, given a good chance, it may well end up near the top of some annual best releases lists.

You can sample some of the tracks on the record here and here and pick up the record on their Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
  1. Kills of the Flood Tide
  2. Carte De Visite
  3. Rein, White Sun
  4. Brown Shark, Red Lion
  5. Traitor Traitor
  6. Bellows To Brass Lens
  7. 14 For 3
  8. West of Rize
  9. A Dead Light
  10. The Pilot And The Pod
  11. Black Sea Accomplice

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