Thursday, October 17, 2013

High Aura'd / Blood Bright Star split on Anti-Matter Records

Instrumental music can be some of the most challenging to create. The stakes feel higher when it comes to composition - you worry about being too complex or running into an alienating free jazz territory but simple post punk minimalism isn't going to cut it without the sharp social commentary vocal. It's also not something venues or bookers are falling over themselves to promote, it can be an awkward experience for an audience to stand in a room listening to instruments. The sex appeal and spotlight of a lead is inherently missing. I think it's for all these reasons that I really appreciate a band that can successfully do it, like Tortoise or Pullman, Explosions in the Sky or Mono. I'd even consider Harvey Milk instrumental the way Creston Spiers vocal is more of a tortured guttural cry on their albums. The two bands sharing this single approach the form in very different ways, High Aura'd is Massachusetts based John Kolodij who sounds like everything and anything is fair game for settling his epic scenes. Bright Blood Star is Reuben Sawyer who on this track takes a more traditional rock approach to his hypnotising psych.

The A-Side from High Aura'd "Remain in Light" opens with swirling atmospheric raining and a deafening low rumble that crashes in waves. It's so foreign sounding it reaches deep into a primal sort of panic thanks to the low end of these frequencies. Like an alien soundscape field recording the tones are piled up in layers far off in the background and come slowly shuffling forward. The higher foggy tones slowly ringing like a slowed down church bell - a single strike endlessly sustained. A tiny bit of static crackle in the distance, the sort of thing you'd imagine would accompany those photos of deep space, pearlescent clouds hovering in darkness. A larger piece pierces his sonic cloud, a little harsher, a distant jagged chainsaw sound of thunder or sirens. What started out slightly calm has turned ugly. On the back of this moon spinning towards you impossible to stop or even understand what's happening. I'm all of a sudden making comparisons to outer space, but this epic track doesn't even fit on earth and slowly evolves from something non threatening to mysterious and frightening only to fade off wondering if it could have really been that bad.

A repeating electric riff and heavily distanced echo drum track fade in on Bright Blood Star's "Golden Blood Part II" and you've walked into a mesmerizing psych sound that keeps adding onto this foundation. A plodding tight track with a little bit of speed, a trot of tempo, getting louder as it grows. A second guitar plinks into focus which could actually be a synth it's so delicate without an attack. A larger distorted guitar then weaves another melody over these two, all independently coming together. A slide guitar then starts moving higher and a bigger gritty distortion with huge sustain and delay plateaus out over everything else. These tracks both seem to be studies in evolution with the kind of subtle changes you can't even pinpoint on a timeline. Where exactly did this sound begin or end? They're imperceptible and always shifting, "Golden Blood Part II" happens to be placed over an endless rock beat that in the end becomes like the pure sound of high Aura'd.

Pick this up on Anti-Matter Records who pay tribute to the seriousness of the recordings with an impressive package. I'll let them explain:

All of the artwork for this split was supplied by none other than Reuben Sawyer of Rainbath Visual. The jackets are a single pocket wallet style gatefold jacket which were hand screen printed compliments of VG Kids on thick, uncoated stock using metallic silver and "doublemint" green ink. The release will also include black dust sleeves for housing the matching "doublemint" green vinyl as well as a complimentary download card to redeem digital versions of both tracks; which were beautifully mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Engineering.

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