TOTEM>: Voices of Grain (2013)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The trio returns with a vengeance on its second album, where they delve into a boundary-less avant-garde foray, proffering an extension of sorts, to Solar Forge (ESP, 2008). And the musicians hop right into the thick of things on the opener "Genosong," where electric guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil saws, slices, and seemingly hacks his way through a dense forest atop the powerful and popping asymmetrical pulse set forth by the rhythm section. But they switch gears on the otherworldly and somewhat foreboding "Written In The Body," as the trio's macabre-like colorations are loosely patterned amid bassist Tom Blancarte's steely bowed bass phrasings and Eisenbeil's unorthodox vernacular that at times, instills notions that Judgment Day is right around the corner.
The band harvests a rough and tumble gait with swirling cadenzas and climactic buildups, coupled with a host of fractured mini-motifs. The guitarist's crunchy harmonics and skittish theme- building exercises spawn a cavalcade of fleeting vistas, compounded by nerve rattling riffs atop drummer Andrew Drury's sweeping frameworks. Then on "Message Without A Code," Blancarte and Eisenbeil generate a guileful sequence of events via bizarre sound- sculpting passages and transient schemas.
The artists' acoustic-electric implementations are somewhat raw by design; however, the crystal clear audio soundstage is treated with a touch of echo, which is a component that neutralizes their jagged progressions. This is a factor that adds a bit of weight to the trio's presence. Otherwise, Blancarte's pumping notes on "Post-Repeating" and Drury's shifting paradigms duly support Eisenbeil's ferocious attack, where he seemingly reduces titanium to microscopic particles with his concisely stated sheets of sound approach. But they subsequently transport the irregular groove into a punchy rock pulse, leading to a torrid feeding frenzy towards the finale. Nonetheless, the largely energized program equates to a shot of adrenaline, as the musicians correlate an extreme sense of artistic adventurism into a hugely entertaining itinerary.
Track Listing: Genosong; Written in the Body; Counter Memory; Towards Jouissance;
Message Without a Code; Post-Repeating; Silence On Its Road.
Personnel: Tom Blancarte: upright bass; Andrew Drury: drums; Bruce Eisenbeil:
Record Label: New Atlantis Records