Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Cosmopolitan psychedelic post-rock from Grails

Grails is an interesting band. The members came together in their home town of Portland, OR for a single show with no designs on a longer-term project. There was such a positive reaction to the band, however, they hired a couple more local musicians and started recording music in 2000. Since that time, the band has seen couple line-up changes (a guitarist left to travel in Turkey, a violinist vanished), released 11 EPs and LPs, and toured Europe and the U.S. east coast.

This one is deep, folks.

Their album, “Burning Off Impurities”  was recommended to me by friend and musician, Rockie Brockway, who tends to favor heavier stuff than me. This album, though, while it has its heavy moments, is more hypnotic and atmospheric. Most of the compositions either plod or meander at first and then build to a heavy climax. Though they use a lot of traditional rock ‘n roll instruments, they don’t always use them in standard rock/pop ways. The songs are often infused with Middle Eastern instruments, progressions, and melodies.

The album has just 8 tracks, but only 2 of them are less than 6 minutes long so you get your money’s worth. Give these 5 in particular a listen.

  • Soft Temple – Plucked guitar and other strings, plodding bass, and patient percussion open this track and it feels like a slow ride on camel back, but the tune grows in pitch and fervor until the power chords and frantic percussion feel more like rocking out on the way to the oasis.
  • Silk Rd – Sitar and guitar moan and whine atmospherically for several minutes before driving percussion comes in to give the song shape. The song swirls together, becoming a platform for some improvisational soloing. They pounce for a few seconds, then quickly fade away.
  • Drawn Curtains – The percussion plods behind mesmerizing guitar. Synthesizer and violin add accents. This one took a couple of plays to penetrate, but I really like it now. This is only an excerpt, but a longer one than the sample on Amazon.
  • Outer Banks – This one is higher energy, but really fits the definition of post rock. Electric guitar and synthesizer work together to set a mood and flow through chord progressions. The guitar occasionally steps forward for some psychedelic soloing. This is a beautiful composition that challenges the ear and really grabs me.
  • Origin-ing – I would love to see Grails perform this song. It doesn’t quite seem to know where it’s going, but it is cool beginning to end. The eerie beginning soon gives way to fast percussion and a frantic, heavily reverbed guitar solo. The percussion keeps things moving through some great work on harmonica and then a weird synthesizer bridge. The final minute deconstructs the places the song has been before fading out.

As I went through some samples of their other albums, I was surprised to hear that they sometimes sing. Not on “Burning Off Impurities,” though. This album is wholly instrumental, consistent, and engaging.

http://www.grailsongs.com/

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July 5, 2010 - Posted by | Post-rock

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