Now here's a slimy, spiky, scuzzball offering!
Sand Band is a "math punk" band from Wellington, New Zealand, and Shards is their inaugural outing. Now what, you may ask, is "math punk" and how can scuzzball be used as a compliment?
Math punk might be considered math rock - brainy, largely instrumental music, made up of intricate arrangements in non-traditional time signatures - viewed through a vaz-soaked lens, blurring the outlines, flattening dimensions. Math punk could be the sound of Death Grips, attempting to cover Meshuggah, or a John Dwyer side project with Brian Chippendale and a bunch of Ghanaian Revolutionaries. It's got the same energy and ambition as math rock, but delivered in a hasty, non-conformist fashion.
Who remembers when metal was mean, when punk was weird and smart and edgy, and was liable to get your ass kicked? When jazz was the sound of revolution, as African Americans created their own classicism, on the spot and out of thin air?
Underground music has a tendency to both foster unconventional musical tastes and approaches, but at the same time, incorporating everything into a safe, polite hegemony that ultimately yanks the fangs of everything one admires. One revolution after another is assimilated, and turned into a lifestyle accessory for rich college kids.
A lot of the threat has been removed from jazz-tinged, instrumental music, so in that, I thank the chthonian deities for Sand Band, and the like. They take us back to the first time hearing music like John Zorn, or the insanely intricate polyrhythmic blast of Dillinger Escape Plan, blending the two. While Zorn's jazz attack was largely freeform and emotive, favoring expression and risk over structure, while Dillinger was so rigid they were hardly even human. Sand Band strikes a balance between the poles.
Shards sounds pretty raw and rough, like it was laid straight to tape, lacking a bit of the depth and warmth you might hear on a widescreen major release, but that's par for the course. This is the sound of basements, the sound of sweating cinderblocks, of staying awake too long, jacked up on stress and a mission from Loki. On music like Shards, I sometimes prefer the roughshod.
Sand Band also get props for being only two guys, Jay van DijkJay and Liam Madgwick, who belt out a real cacophony with only guitar and drums. I'm totally smitten with their guitar tone - a spiky, trebly gelatinous lava flow - for the drums to dance their pagan revels around. I can't find info on who plays what, but the drummer is ABSOLUTELY SICK! A deft touch, light on the snare, like a platoon of sugar plum fairies tap dancing with hobnail boots across a stainless steel cobweb, while the guitar gets paranoid and gibbers in the corner.
The majority of Shards is instrumental, so fans of wordless music will probably get the most out of the listening. For those that have grown bored of jazz, who can't stand one more stoic, square-shouldered apathetic indie show, climb on this Ship Of Fools right now!
Recommended for fans of: Lightning Bolt, John Zorn, Zeni Gava, Don caballero
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