Review Summary: Massively heavy and yet beautifully dreamy at the same time.
It is a very hard task to ever define a band, characterizing their sound so that they can be held in comparison to contemporaries. It has become even harder in recent times when so many bands combine various genres and we force ourselves even harder to come up with new names just so we can tell the subtle differences between two very similar bands. Irepress broke the mold that we so earnestly tried to hold firm when they self-released “Samus Octology” in the fall of 2005.
Based upon a few seconds of very GY!BE-eske horn-work on the sixth track, “Fiddler, Yee Ryding”, some may describe Irepress (pronounced like Irrepressible) as ‘just another post-rock band’ but what most don’t understand is that that is exactly what Irepress is not. If held up to the likes of Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai it would be a tough feat to find any real similarities linking the two other than the very ethereal sound they both give their music. Instead of accentuating a slight tweak or alteration to an already established genre - what so many of today’s artists have based their careers around - Irepress formed their own sound that, as of today, has escaped genre classification.
The sound that Irepress have created is what many bands today only dream of doing. The delicate interweaving of differing styles and combination of ostensibly mismatched genres, can come together to make for an individual and unique experience for the listener. Often throughout the album you are ripped from soft and dreamy synth-charged dreamscapes and thrust directly into heavy, bass-dominated, whirlpools of sound. However, even when these dramatic changes suddenly arise, it doesn’t feel out of place and is actually rather pleasing. Complimenting Shan’s impeccable work on his Bass are Dino and Benji, the dual guitarists, sometimes individually noodling out their own spacey yet complementary tunes, and other times coming together in sync to create truly massive riffs. At the times when you aren’t being relentlessly overwhelmed by the crushing guitars and booming bass, you’ll find yourself in romantic and calming havens crafted by Jarrett, master of the keyboard. Bringing up the rear, but not by far is Sheel, Shan’s bother. Although not as blatantly noticeable as the aforementioned members, Sheel provides a solid backing; hitting those crisp cymbals just right when things got too calm, to get things going again.
One of the major influences of the band is the Classic 80’s flic, “The Goonies.” Some may find it hard to transfer emotions found in a family movie onto a soundtrack, but Irepress makes it seem like child’s play. Following the protagonists throughout the movie are various metaphors for oppression or pressure, whether it be the dingy caves the characters find themselves trudging through, the bleak and oppressive atmosphere of rural Oregon, or the continual pursuit by the nefarious Fratellis. However, like in all good stories, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and the good guys win. Irepress has taken this story of adversity and worked it into their music flawlessly, interspersing the heavy and intense base of their music with quaint lapses of sheer splendor.
All in all, “Samus Octology” is an intense ride, a work of art if I may. It has changed, if only my, perception of what music is and how we’re only kidding ourselves when we think we know it all. You can learn a lot when you experiment with something out of the norm. I know I did when I picked this up.