Review Summary: Sharp, technical and all around awesome post-rock from Down Under.
Taking a gaze around the post-rock scene today, you'd be excused for thinking that just way too many bands simply focus on airy melodies, floating around and ultimately, just getting lost. Which is why Meniscus' brand of technical
post-rock is just about the most refreshing thing to hit the waves in a long, long, long time. If they came out from any other scene, the Sydney based three piece would probably be chewing through the competition and shooting straight to the top of everyone’s to-watch list. Drawing from influences as diverse as Jakob’s free flowing smoothness and Isis’ sluggish groove, the band’s first EP, titled The Absence of I
, is a absolute slammer
of a instrumental post-rock album. They’ve even got a whole concept involving water bugs and everything – it’s probably very interesting, but it’s sort of hard to honestly gave a damn when the songs here are just so damn good.
And just like the best of the genre, Meniscus have a wizardly sense of dynamics, songs flowing with the purity of water and with transitions so smoothly composed it’s hard to ever hold any of the music down in one spot. Songs shift themselves in between twinklingly light phrases and melodically brutal chug chuginess (well… as ‘brutal’ as you’ll ever find in post-rock) with an ease of abandon. Still, you won’t find the band sticking to any one formula, with “Cusp” and “Pilot” sauntering in and out of heavy/light texturing, and “Mother” building itself up to one of the most wonderfully thick climaxes of the record.
Guitarist Daniel Oreskovic is also the answer to post-rock’s over saturation of garbled noise and tremolo picking, playing with his own sense of crystalline sharpness, the clarity of his lines adding to every song, rather than simply filling them with ambience and noise. (and no, you won't find blazing solos and the like here, sorry). Oreskovic also has somewhat of a love affair going on with his delay pedal, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as creatively talented with delay effects as this man. Guitar lines here echo like they’re being played inside of an incredibly bare room, bounding off walls and reverberating with either sheer vigor or delicate lightness, depending each song’s own distinctive flow.
And while its rare to see rhythm take centre stage for a genre so focused on melody, special mention here goes out to drummer Duncan Wilson, who is undoubtedly one of the best skinsmen to ever
grace the genre – while not absolutely running in circles with his cymbals, you’ll find Wilson laying down ridiculously creative and stupidly tasteful rhythms with the all precision of a peregrine falcon. And my gosh can the man groove
–Listening to his cymbal work on “Pilot”, you’d almost be convinced that he’s playing on set of crystal chandleries rather than any sort of drumset, while his tribalish beats on “Idiot Savant/Far” never come off derivative, despite their vogue everywhere else.
Perhaps the only real criticism is that the EP sometimes comes off as a little emotionally cold – the band’s calculated precision in crafting these songs leaving little space for any real warmth, like the sort of beauty captured in a stunning ice sculpture. Some might also take issue with the ten or so minutes of ambient cricket chirping noises that sits in the middle of the twenty-seven minute “Idiot Savant/Far”, but it’s a nice little musical device that adds a touch of something different to the experience.
At only four songs long, Meniscus’ Absence of I
EP is the perfect length for a breath of post-rock that isn’t stifling, adding something fresh to a scene that seems forever to be teetering on the edge of blandness. Technically brilliant and tightly composed, here’s to a full length!