As a teen growing up in the 1970s, I was enamored by the complexities of a budding transcontinental progressive-rock scene. Odd-metered time signatures and jazz-like explorations were a feast for the ears, thanks to bands such as Gentle Giant, King Crimson and others. Fast-forwarding to the millennium, a new harvest of performers is perhaps ruling the roost.
Take for example, this North Carolina-based trio, which approaches from every conceivable direction via an intricately-carved and mind-bending approach to the rock idiom. On its fourth album and second for this estimable record label, Ahleuchatistas gushes forth with insurmountable enthusiasm as it abides by a painstakingly scrupulous mode of attack.
Structured upon a wiz, bang and thoroughly in-your-face gait, the trio amplifies the knotty time divisions and metrics heard by fabled musical warriors of a bygone era. And it's balls-to-the-walls all over the place throughout Even In The Midst... that serves as a continuation of the unit's previously chartered excursions. The music presents an innumerable degree of oddball niceties, all underscored with a skyrocketing impetus.
Ahleuchatistas fuses punk, grunge, free-rock and spacey improvisation into punishing, discordant riffs and polyrhythmic cadences, with Shane Perlowin's twangy guitar lines eliciting a crossbreed stylization that merges country, psychedelia and avant-garde concepts. It's partly about diametrically opposed and mathematically correct forward-motion.
The group submerges itself into free-jazz/rock on "The Bears of Cantabria Shall Sleep No More, where phantasmagorical inferences are enacted by Derek Poteat's scraping of his bass strings, counterbalancing Perlowin's subliminal lower-register voicings.
For the most part, the trio conveys remarkable depth, while often countering pre-conceived expectations. Many of these sinuously designed unison lines are executed by Poteat and drummer Sean Dail, which in most situations goes against the grain, especially when Perlowin is apt to man the back-end of a given composition. Otherwise, the musicians don't always play by the rules, offering a bit of respite and deviation from the roads too-often traveled.
No such thing as a dead-end here, as Ahleuchatistas skirts the fringes of fantasy amid cartoon-like jovialness or sparking imagery of mice scurrying about in a multidirectional maze. Either way, the band's penchant for generating excitement might be akin to a visualizing an oscilloscope that calibrates energy rapidly moving across a histogram. Pleasantly neurotic and irrefutably stimulating, this album stands on its own amid the sometimes murky waters of contemporary rock.
Personnel: Derek Poteat: bass; Shane Perlowin: guitar; Sean Dail: drums.