Most will be familiar with the layered intertwining crescendo post rock of bands like Explosions in the Sky, with their wall of guitars. Fewer will be familiar with the sound of bass, drum and just one guitar playing progressive instrumental rock. Which is a shame because bands like Obe and Meniscus have a lot to offer. Not that Obe were always a three piece, and they are still finding a replacement second guitarist, but it’s great that they spent some time exploring the possibilities when you have less to play with.
The two songs on this EP complement and run into each other, a 14 minute song in two parts if you like, except that each part has plenty of variation and dynamics in itself. The songs are more extroverted and less self-conscious than a lot of post-rock and tend more towards that full riffing post-metal sound than EITS. It’s also got that distinctive UK/Irish guitar sound with loopy little arpeggios and not so much of the tremolo of the older Austin sound. Bass in a three piece like this is of course more prominent and it really strings out some great lines. Add in some synth to beef up the sound a little and some great dynamic poly-rhythmic drumming and this is the sort of stuff you really need to stand up for so you can move around to it. Or perhaps even play some air instruments to. It’s precisely the sort of music that is magnificent live but knows its limitations in the studio, so it relies on more for its depth than the power and presence of a live performance.
Despite what some people think, there remains an infinite variety of ideas, sounds and textures in progressive instrumental rock. I can hear elements of at least a dozen other bands in “Standard Cheese” without Obe sounding like a copy of any of them. I just want an hour of this, not 14 minutes. Bring on the full length!