Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#86. Yowie- Cryptooology (Skin Graft, 2004)

A big part of enjoying an album, for me at least, comes from the period where you're trying to understand it. When the album still has some mystique to it it seems that much more special, and every listen that strips that mystique away is enjoyable for different reasons. The key though is that once you get the album it needs to retain that enjoyability on some level. It's the same issue you might have with puzzles: they're fun to work through the first time but now that you know the finished product is it really worth going through it all again? If you already have a handle on all the intricacies of an album is it worth going through the motions with it ever again just to hear those intricacies in action? I'd say it is in most cases - I'm well beyond the discovery phase with every album on this list and still have no problem giving them a few more listens to remind myself of why I put them here in the first place - but there's a certain segment of albums that I don't think I'll ever fully understand, ones for whom the mystique is never gonna be fully stripped away. Those ones are exceedingly rare, but they tend to make for the most interesting listens.

Cryptooology is one I don't think I'll ever have a full handle on. I can identify the various parts - the guitars that do mind-bending runs that lead to dive-bombs and queasy bends, the drumming that's just as relentless as on a Don Caballero album but twice as frantic/half as jazzy - but the way they work together is not something I can quite get the whole picture of. There's structure, sure, but there's no framework, no motifs that the band returns to, no consistent time signature or tempo. The trio move as one unit, but the motions they make don't have a logical flow to them; one minute they're all thrashing out some unrelentingly complex figures in a made up time signature then out of nowhere one of the guitarists lets it fall into a high-up-the-neck, whammied note for a few seconds before the band returns to another mind-boggling run. Each of the seven tracks follows a similar pattern to the point where I can't tell you which one is which, and the fact that they're all named after females whose names start with 'T' doesn't help matters any, so it's esentially like listening to a single 30 minute exercise in chaos.

And if that's not right up my alley I don't know what is. The fact that I'm still trying to get a handle on what exactly is going on here makes it a singularly fascinating listen on top of it sounding like nothing I've heard before. The runs the guitarists go through are exhilarating, and the drummer - simply known as Defenestrator - matches them at every turn. It's one of the most cohesive ensembles I've heard in the realm of math rock running through the least cohesive material imaginable, and in spite of how that may sound on paper it's really good if you're generally open to that sort of material.

Coming up tomorrow: Screamo goes post rock with AWESOME results.

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