Monday, 4 February 2013

Discovery: I Am Waiting For You Last Summer - Edge Party


The grand federal landscape of Russia has, in recent times, garnered an increasing of my attention musically, so far as to the country's recent unveiling of artists and musicians who seek to either craft the far-flung wintered mystery of their homeland, or simply protrude themselves as worthy investments of a Western World's listening habits, and time spent sat by a computer and - if the manner is more than satisfactory - with the accompanying physical release of such music in order to show that wider admiration for the musical World east of the German border. On a broader scale, while I've taken to Russian fellows like Bop and continually long for a return to the man's chillingly relaxing dabble of minimal electronics and ambient soundscapes, slightly closer to home I've regained some degree of faith in less-electronic musical fields, as some of you may know, via the likes of Ukraine's The Best Pessimist and his ambitious take on contemporary post-rock. In hindsight, it's rather foolish of me to have taken such a bias against the Eastern section of our World for such a long time. But thankfully, with a heightened level of wisdom - but more rather a longing to just explore (and discover as this entry heavily states) newer avenues in musical expression - I've been given the opportunity to dive head first into another of Russia's fine offerings, in the shape of three-piece I Am Waiting For You Last Summer and their 2013 remastering of last year's debut, Edge Party...which on the outside, name-wise, is as far afield a post-rock identified band could present their ideas through.

But in actuality, it works. It's a fitting title, not just because it reflects the band's deliberate break from what is a recognizable and formulaic norm for palettes of rock instrumentation, but also it's down to what is gained from this, now eleven-track, record. And it's the familar, bold, unashamed explosion of energy we've come to know, love, recognize, and equally dismiss if ultimately used simply as track filler...but more evident, its source material comes up against the raw and catalytic energy that electronic music can conjure regardless of a track's context and branching subject matter. And the chimera-like unison that on paper would give doubters enough of a reason to dismiss this as lucratively lost in its own experimentation, brings about even more glimpses into the power of post-rock's theoretical sustainability of music as an expressive medium. Straight from the off, opener The Origin is a brisk, new-year ushering of distant percussion and bass guitars that soon let the brisk sway of electric guitars echo and wane against what is a surprisingly effective fuzz of synth distortion that acts a lead-in to the following track Solar Wind. And even if the transgression between tracks is fairly non-existent, and does end the piece somewhat drastically, the immediate swatch of textured strings and percussion that is both chillingly organic and crushingly synthetic alike, does a great job in emphasizing the record's overall dynamic palette of organic and synthetic instrumentation alike.

There's a definite focus more on the electronic side of the band's composition and how they go about linking the tracks together overall. And because of this, the synthesizer usage and method of distortion and glitch that attacks the drive of guitars throughout, builds on the music's conflictual attitude to synthetic and organic sounds. Even if tracks like Away From Here could be seen less as a post-rock effort and more a purely electronica house-orientated piece, there's enough about the demographic of guitar placement and the relation they have with the monotonous shackle of electronics, that speaks volumes about the music's emotional output. With Intension too, there's a sense perhaps that we're finally, at last, in uncharted territory regarding post-rock's focus on melody and harmony in and around the instruments being used. But what I like about this track especially is how much a contrast the two differences in tempo and rhythm the track centres around, first starting out melodic in its approach, but soon unveiling itself in a more upbeat energetic drive of synthesizer beats. And given how entwined the clash of instrument choices are, it fulfills (again) its aims both as a composition as well as a piece with an illustrative detail to its toning.

I'm compelled, as a result, by the band's decision and, as you get further into the album, specific knack for knowing where and when there synthesizers place themselves about the layering and overall production of a track. Tracks like Unseen show the band as a three-piece that know how crucial and strong a particular beat will be, yet at the same time given how the more stretched glow of electronics alongside the familiar passage of guitar strings create a melodic traversing and plane for which the harsher beats of synthesizers can relay through, the priority given with these particular instruments, despite being evenly shared and equal throughout, there's no falter or weakening as to how the analogous textures of electronics meet with how soothing and textural the guitars generate for the piece overall. Admittedly, if you're listening to this expecting guitars to be the dominant factor and archetype for this record, then you might be left sorely disappointed, and going over the music for maybe the third, forth - and possibly umpteenth time after that - there is a slight hint that for what has passed so far, the electronic path the band take may not have hold out in an overly melodic and captivating way, but perhaps works best when the music has focus on rhythm as opposed to the material and substance of the music itself. 

Fortunately, the track Event Horizon is where the band hush all potential worries, and come catapulting back into a forward-motioned explosion of guitar riffs, heavy-handed drumbeats and overall lush string composites that paint the visuals of the music in a rewarding slab of bold and rich tones. But most of all, the band's continuing emphasis, and balance, of harmony, dynamics and melody - all of which are pretty much the key ingredients to any great post-rock album - is all here; encompassed in a fairly secluded and less-than-journeying scope of sound, but most importantly, a track that definitely protrudes itself from out of the lofty electronic equipment of previous. Obsessed By, the following track, sees the band incorporate a light and fairer tone of vocals alongside the band's equilibrium of guitar instrumentation and synthesized drum beats. But even with the track taking a less composite path, and more a contemporary - dare I say it, pop - approach, it takes nothing away from the intricate toning and brisk meeting of guitar strings and synth beats. And with the album's [original closer] The Void, the band leave us with an undying sense of longed continuation, guitars peeling away at the harsh, winter tossing of echoing dub and an atmosphere that runs tightly between the spectrum of dawn and dusk glacial surroundings.

To say I'm surprised by what I've heard from a band named I Am Waiting For You Last Summer, with an album cover clearly depicting more a winter surreality, and an album title such as Edge Party that would immediately make anyone think of a contextual relation to dance or any form of electronica precursors, is probably one of the biggest understatements I will gladly admit to expressing. In the majority of the cases, this pattern and mixture of sound simply would not have worked. And yet, here it is...not only working, but fulfilling what it's set out to achieve. It's a post-rock record that doesn't rely on the past for reassurance, but neither is it some electronic-rock hybrid aiming to cover as many cross-over possibilities as it can get its hands on. Every element, for the most part, fits neatly together and paints a scene that matches the illustrative desolation of winter's harshest realities, of its album cover, without coming across morbidly depressing or woeful. I wish I could end this review with what sense of professionalism I've managed to establish for myself, still sustained. But given how overwhelming and unexpected a listen this album is, both visually and musically (at least to me), I can not help but finish myself, by devolving my writing into that of some raving newbie to the online journalism circle. GET. THIS. ALBUM.
~Jordan

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