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Concentric - V CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.51 | 3 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Concentric's "V" has enigmatic cover art and 5 tracks with equally enigmatic music that are based on the 5 stages of grief that overwhelm a person as they realise death is certain. I like the packaging of the album with striking artwork and an unusual fold out design. Nothing about this album is conventional, not even the way it looks.

The trio consists of Jerry Hauppa on guitar, and hammered dulcimer, Brad O'Malley on drums, and guitar, and James Becker on guitar, cello, and bass. The album is conceptual and totally instrumental, focussing on a metal sound with touches of folk and ambience. It has metal rhythms but very little distorted guitar. The Post Rock tones are prevalent and the music is extremely unpredictable and seems to flow as one long song rather than 5 separate ones. It is a journey with music that rises and falls with innovation and creativity.

The 5 stages of grief on the album are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. It begins with the lengthy 'Denial', a 10 minute excursion into strange musical shapes. The cello is prominent and gives the piece a very dreamy and quite dark feel, as the bass plunges deep down with reverb and somehow maintains the sporadic rhythm of the percussion. At 6:30 minutes in the pace slows into a plodding rhythm and the cello begins to remind me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It is equally as bleak in the atmosphere but has more variation than the usual Math Rock approach. This is complex music and hard to follow, though is always compelling.

'Anger' blazes along with cello serrations, odd time sig with bass and drum barrelling along on its own meter. The innovation in the unusual musicianship is striking. The bass pounds as drums tumble into formation, and the melody is left primarily to the strings. There is a steady tempo at 3:40, with bass plucking, guitars and cello vibrating a mournful melody.

'Bargaining' has a faster beat with double kick drums, guitar distortion and ascending melodies. It soon breaks into odd time sigs that stop and start sporadically. This is a heavier track due to the metal guitar textures. The intricate avant garde rhythms would make any self respecting metronome shudder; it is off the scale. This is the best track so far for my tastes.

'Depression', the best track by a mile, has an even more pronounced metal sound, like Meshuggah. The tempo kicks in, takes off, goes into ramming speed, and then is silenced, until we hear new rhythms and it keeps shuddering, never staying on the one sig; this is unbelievable! I am in awe the way the band somehow keep tight with such delirious anti-rhythmic musicianship. The dissonant way that the guitar and drums move in to a machine gun attack, and then stop wilfully in sync is incredible. At 3:30 the tempo slows and it locks into a consolidated measured pace on this amazing track.

'Acceptance' opens with an Oriental sound, again a dark drone reminding me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The guitars are layered and not so aggressive as previous. The tempo moves into tumbling and rollicking all over the place as a hypnotic guitar motif resounds. The way the pace keeps speeding up and crashes down the stairs in a heap is one of the best things on the album. Shattering rhythms at 5:40 are driven by bass and drum irregularity, and then staccato pulses of heavy bass pummel any semblance of melody. Then it moves into a blast of acoustic answered by heavy bass plucking. At 7:55 speed picking guitar dominates reminding me of Manowar's intro to "Guyana The Cult of the Damned". The album has closed with a blinder, simply outstanding musicianship.

Overall, "V" is an odd album that takes a while to really take off, but it will appeal to Math Rock or Avant fans as this is on the more extreme side of dissonance. The last 2 tracks are excellent and definitely some of the best Math Rock I have heard since Giraffes? Giraffes! The time sigs are intricate beyond belief and I must admit this album took me by surprise after listening to a whole lot of mainstream albums today. This is as unconventional as the medium allows, providing some compelling listening from Concentric.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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