Review Summary: Interesting and fresh instrumental post-metal, although formulaic in structure.Discovery
is the 2008 LP offering of a man named B.M. Sharp, whose progressive, post-metal project Cloudkicker has attracted no small amount of attention; the LP itself is a 10-track foray into the edges of math, prog, noise, and post-metal.
Sirens blare to announce the beginning of the album on Genesis Device,
giving way to a Meshuggah-esque mathy groove on the lowest strings at the artist's disposal. A mere introduction, this first track does nothing more than welcome you to the album, which begins with track two in a blaze of glory.
the first real track on the album, is also one of the best. The main melody is strong, heavy on octaves and interesting enough to keep you hooked; at 2:15 it falls into a groove which while eschewing traditional conceptions of rhythmic acceptability some also manages to reassure and comfort. The main line returns at 3:45 to close out the song a minute later, and it ends on a feedback loop which cuts straight into the next track.
A strange, dark trip is ahead. On Avalanche
Mr. Sharp shows here that all the power-consonance of the previous track isn't going to define the whole album; he doesn't shy away from off-color notes or dissonant harmonies as he builds to the epic triplet breakdown at 3:30. As with the previous track, the ambient sound is a huge part of the song proper; the consistently interesting guitar riffs are almost always accompanied by a high synthesized line which adds dimensions to the sound. By 4:18 we've returned to the beginning melody and the final suspended chord fades as strings hold on just a bit longer.
The next track, Everything's Mirrors,
is a clean-toned, delay-driven, chord-built melody line with unsettling ambient sounds built around it; it's almost an impressionistic piece, a single image captured by two minutes of sound. Where it could have been an annoying addition to the album, it's elegantly executed and makes for a nice break to allow for some breathing before the high-energy post-metal fury of the album returns.
is a strange, stately piece which features a melody that stretches across octaves and which weaves in and out of time signatures. As it gets heavier towards the middle, it builds in intensity until what I can only describe as a spree erupts at 2:34, which for fifteen seconds is almost too much but which finally gives way at 2:49 to a dark groove. For the middle breakaway alone this one's worth the listen.
The next track, segue:
, is two and a quarter minutes of quiet development of a melody line which sounds like something the Cure might have written. Like Everything's Mirrors, which is similar in structure, this track is careful not to overstay its welcome and is done in about two minutes.
The title track is significantly longer than the rest of the tracks on the album, clocking in at over 8 minutes. It doesn't waste any time getting into it either, and huge, heavy chords in odd times blast out with the now-familiar synth harmonies ringing above. By 1:25 The Discovery
has taken a quieter turn, and the synth drives the piece forward as the guitars add emphasis on the beat where it's necessary. It maintains a lot of energy through this softer section, and by the time it returns to full steam at 3:10, it's become a monstrous wall of sound. The mathy precision of the guitar and bass groove while maintaining the 4/4 , with the synthesizer providing the melody to the chaos underneath, is a now-familiar gambit which until 5:35 is almost trancelike and meditative. The post-rock elements carry throughout the remainder of the song, which at its conclusion fades out, leaving the embryonic beginnings of the next song underneath.
That song is Covington,
a clean song replete with tapping, delay, repetition, and carefully-written drum parts; an interesting element is the manner in which the drums are also fed through the delay, resulting in a hypnotic cadence-like quality.
doesn't have time to mess around, and in it's short minute of track time it presents a raw, intense slab of instrumental hard rock that's hard to find fault with. As a track by itself maybe it doesn't have much power, since its short play time limits its effectiveness, but as a transitional track between the reservation of Covington and the strong album conclusion in States, it's perfect.
If you've read this far you've probably noted the formulaic nature of the tracks. It's true that the tracks tend to fall into one of two categories: 'hard' and 'soft.' There's only three 'soft' songs, namely Everything's Mirrors, segue:, and Covington, and they're pleasant interludes to the other seven tracks that really comprise the meat of the album. The rest, the 'hard' tracks, are balls-out post-metal, with extended song structures and big fat melody lines, no shortage of playing around with time signature and, while not afraid of dissonance, are mostly melodic and consonant. These tracks feature interesting drumming (the drums on this album are not performed but programmed; as programmed drums they sound excellent and the patterns themselves are perfectly suited to the album's style), and synthesized countermelodies and harmonies that feel like they float on top of the tightly produced sound. Most have an interlude and a subsequent return to the original melody, or a slightly altered melody that fades or comes to a crashing halt. It's formula. It works.
Would you have even read the review of the last song? It's one of the hard songs. You can fill in every blank.
So what are we left with? It's predictable but enjoyable; it's fun but dense enough to warrant some real digging into. But the real draw of the album for me has less to do with the music, which IS good, than it does the nature of its creation. Mr. Sharp sits in his basement with his guitars and basses. He writes all the music; he programs all the drum parts; he records it all into his computer and mixes it all himself. And when his work's paid off, and he's got himself enough material for a full-length LP release, he uploads it to his website and lets people download it for free.
This is music. This is music devoid of the trappings of record label expectations, devoid of the cynical nature of profit-seeking. This is the work of an artist who's making the music for himself, and we're privileged to be able to hear this work for ourselves. This sort of art for the sake of art, a foray into the mind of a man named B.M. Sharp in all its creative power, should be ultimately encouraged and supported for the altruistic and inspiring nature of the offering.
And it just happens to kick tons of ass.