More times than not, the music tempo I listen to fits into two categories. The first one is all about the speed. Tempo that is so fast and furious, that it will make you thrash violently until you collapse from exhaustion. The second tempo category is much slower. I think of it as, going from a steady walk around the neighborhood, to walking with cement shoes on the ocean floor. Most of the time I love both of these speeds, but I’m always in search of a band that has the skill to mix both tempos into an extraordinary album. Well, great news, I have found one of those albums in Minsk‘s “The Crash & The Draw.”
Minsk, a Chicago-based band, has been around since 2002, but their last full-length album, “With Echoes in the Movement of Stone,” was released six long years ago.
Now after listening to “The Crash & The Draw” multiple times, I compare this album to skipping flat stones on a pond. Just like on a summer day, the opening track,’To the Initiate,’ starts off innocently calm. You can picture the beautiful landscape surrounding an undisturbed pond with Tim Mead‘s keyboards setting a tranquil mood. All of this changes when the first stone is violently cast into the water. In this case it is the ferocious lightning riffs of guitarists Aaron Austin and Christopher Bennett, the rumbling thunder of bassist Zachary Livingston and the aggression of drummer Kevin Rendleman. When combined, they cause a tremendous ripple in the pond and a deep boom that reverberates in your eardrums. But just like watching the ripples caused by the stone, while listening to “The Crash & The Draw” the harsh breakdowns will give away to a sublime atmospheric setting.
Throughout the ebb and flow of tempos in “The Crash & The Draw,” Minsk shows off their skill. On ‘To You There is No End,’ Rendleman displays his talents with a tribal drum solo. He works the skins so intensely that I felt transported to grasslands of Africa. While listening I had the feeling that at any moment a man-eating lion was going to pounce and have me for his lunch.
Along with the perfect mixture of relaxing ambiance and crushing breakdowns, Minsk also incorporates psychedelic and spacey elements into the album. The four part song series ‘Onward Procession’ reminded me of the ending of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” when the space pod is pulled into the vortex of colored light. Just like the movie, you are in awe of the beautiful psychedelic soundscapes filtering into your ears. Soon the beauty gives away, and you find yourself scared as you race at great speed across vast distances of space, hearing bizarre cosmological phenomena. Adding to the terror are harsh vocals echoing in the back of your mind. Sorry to everyone who hasn’t watched this particular movie. It is one of my favorites, and is thought-provoking just like this album.
Now I’m not going to lie, this album is seventy-six minutes long and isn’t for the impatient listener who needs an insane amount of riffs per minute. It is a long-distance marathon, not a one-hundred yard dash. There is a lot of long and slow soundscape building before it is torn down with overpowering fury. I thought the overall payoff was tremendous. I tip my hat to Minsk at how easily they orchestrate the pace to give the listener a relaxed listening experience, and then at a flip of a switch the calmness is smashed to bits by bulky breakdowns.
Just remember what your parents told you when you were kids, “Good things come for those who wait.”