Thursday, October 6, 2011

Album Review: Eepocampe - When Things Get Abstract

Ah, vocal post-rock. There isn't too much of it being released this year, which you'll notice I also commented on in my Cassie spotlight. However, Eepocampe hits the nail on the head with their second record, mixing vocals with an easy instrumentation for simplicity, but also an added effect of atmosphere. When Things Get Abstract brings a wave of music that just feels good to listen to, like a combination between Moving Mountains and Explosions in the Sky. The record is optimistic with a sense of drive that comes from the alternative and post-rock driven influences, and they mesh to create what basically sounds like Pneuma, with the touches of guitar riffs and melodies from All Of the Sudden I Miss Everyone, but a trained ear will notice that there's at least a bit to be desired from this album.

The eponymous track begins with a bass line and some very faded, very quiet synths in the background, slowly adding more elements, beginning with the guitar, which begins to layer upon itself, feeling anything but rushed. The reverb helps a lot to create the feeling that there's more going on than there actually is, with the three-person instrumentation - it feels as though there are a lot more guitars than there actually are, which is a cool way to mix the album. The bass also helps to push the rhythm a lot, taking on a second, vital role as the backing guitar. What excited me a lot about this song was the powerful buildup in the middle, with the guitar becoming more distorted, and the drums feeling more frantic, while sound clips about the transmission of ideas blare on in a faded cloud behind the instrumentation; the way this is accomplished is so powerful that you can actually just feel the tension during the bridge, and the way the drums comes in to complement the secondary buildup is absolutely beautiful. And then a guitar screaming riffs like Torsten Kinsella's axe would kicks its way in, and continues to add to the sheer force of this song, except that...the song just quits after the secondary buildup. There are a full two minutes of winding down after that, and it isn't really taken anywhere. The fadeout is a really cool effect, but after that epic of a buildup, I felt let down more than anything else.

The seventh track on the album, "Soliloquies of a Further Death", is a fantastic blend of experimental sounding alternative with emotion-ladened post-rock. The song opens with a cymbal-oriented opening, with a heavily reverbed guitar, but soon breaks into a very upbeat guitar-oriented jam by Alexis Medina that is heavily reminiscent of Mark Smith or Munaf Rayani, while Antony Lourdel supports on his bass and sings a vocal melody slightly too far buried under the instrumentation. However, it doesn't necessarily detract from the song - while I wish I could hear and comprehend what Lourdel was singing, he ends up fading into the background as more of an alt-rock element that blends well with the layered guitars as they strum, much more peacefully now, over the slowly smoothing and slowing tune.

While there were some negative things about the album, they didn't end up skewing my vision of the record in any way, other than a slight disappointment from the eponymous track. The way that Eepocampe incorporated alternative aspects into their music was something to be respected, though, for the strength it brought to the album was something that became more effective than a long, drawn out buildup that takes seven minutes just to start resolving. If anything, I wish the vocals were more prominent though, because vocals aren't often seen with post-rock, and they can be extremely effective if performed correctly. Lourdes' voice wasn't buried, but it was just beneath everything that was going on so that the lyrics were very difficult to distinguish. I would still absolutely recommend this album, however, to alternative fans looking for a different taste, or post-rock fans looking for something with more brute strength than a typical album, because composition and content-wise, it's still a great album.

You can stream this for free and purchase it on Eepocampe's Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
1) Lions & Elephants
2) Heart of Volunteer
3) Odyssey
4) When Things Get Abstract
5) Indecisive Mind
6) Polaroid Fades
7) Soliloquies of a Further Death
8) Neumonal Realm

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