Jarrad Will is one of those musicians who gets as excited about other bands’ music as his own. Not only that, he’s the first one at a gig jumping in and helping others. So it’s no surprise to see his band Xenograft team up with a couple of young bands in the form of Bear the Mammoth and Kettlespider to release a split EP, and we reviewed the launch gig here on ThisIsNotAScene.
The three Melbourne instrumental bands each chip in a new song and it works well for a couple of reasons. The songs are all good, played well and well produced but also belong together, taking you through a progression in such a way that if the songs actually ran into each other you could almost call this a concept EP. Each song plays a different role and none lets the side down. This has the potential to get fans of one style listening to others who don’t already, although that’s not to say it sounds at all like a record label or magazine sampler.
‘Victimentia’ is the opening track by the mathamusicians Xenograft with their distinctive sound that incorporates keys, synth, two guitars, bass, drums, sax, and an assortment of objects that make sounds when you hit them with sticks. The band seeks to create a sound that doesn’t leave the impression of being a mash of styles which is not easy with the clear range of influences and instrumentation. This song does get closer to that aim than those on their “Exit” EP and despite the jazz, metal, funk and math elements and its hectic and erratic nature, it’s a cohesive composition. This is the real time-bender of the EP.
Kettlespider are up next with ‘Transcent’ and it further cements the characteristics of their heavy progressive rock or light progressive metal style (you choose). There’s no confusing who this is from the start of the fade-in (yes they still exist) as the familiar tones of the syncopated arpeggios start from Scott Ashburn and Harris Boyd-Gerny, but it takes more from their live experimentations than from the kinds of melodies found on their album. In a way it’s the embodiment of their confidence and their fascination with repetition, stressed notes and timing. In the context of the EP it brings a stability while retaining a strong polyrhythmic nature.
The third song is from Bear the Mammoth and takes us into post-rock territory. ‘Sea Caesar’ reminds me of Sydney bands Meniscus and Dumbsaint, mainly in it’s guitar tone, but also in it’s structure, although it’s got more swing and swagger to it and it’s a pretty happy tune. It also stands in contrast to the other two tracks with its relaxed and soothing mid-tempo feel and ckoses the EP well.
The digital version of the EP also contains three remixes by Glasfrosch, who also recently contributed to a collection of sleepmakeswaves remixes and is involved in a project which seeks to find a better way of combining rock and classical music. As much as I enjoy these I’m not sure the six-track download works as well as the three-track CD but there is a good possibility of me changing my mind on that. It would have been nice to give the EP a name but the content is nothing to be unhappy about. It’s a great snapshot of just three of the bands creating progressive instrumental energy in Melbourne right now and presents it like they were always meant to be together on the same record.