Pushing the Edge
I have always been a fan of bands pushing the boundaries of genres: take And So I Watch You From Afar, or UpCDownC, musicians putting their hearst and souls into their music, regardless of whether they stick to the standards within the genre. Its one of the things that keeps me away from mainstream radio, which is full of music that always sounds the same.
Future Recordings, a label from the US, follows the same principal and only signs bands pushing the edge. With a large catalogue of very individual releases, normally in hand made and hand printed packaging, the label excels at finding bands and releases that go beyond the norm, injecting sounds, instruments and melodies into their tracks that may seem confusing on the first listen, but then grow as the listener realises that the music is peronal, the label being a vehicle, and the band is telling a story using a language that may be new.
Years of Rice and Salt are a band that seem to have studied story telling. More than a compilation of tracks, Nothing of Cities is a blend of soft percussions, in-your-face build ups and steady time signature changes, in a non-standard post-rock or math-rock manner. Each song can be likened to a chapter, the album as a whole is the book. Tales of happiness and joy are interspersed with dramatic and incumbent sections, the story being told appears to me to be one of changing emotions, swirling personalitites and painful memories.
It is impossible to classify the album in a clear manner, I could reference Yndi Halda, En Plein Air or Esmerine, however the comparisons don’t do the album justice. Imagine a book of short stories, each complete in itself. Imagine by the time you get to the last tale, you realise that the stories, allbeit whole in themselves, are part of a larger picture, and you only now realise and understand the message. Like the proverbial sun breaking through the clouds and throwing rays of light onto the ground, Nothing of Cities resembles few albums that I have listened to so far, and is definitely on the list of “must haves” for 2011.