Review Summary: Store-brand Post Rock
Aphasia is a post-rock band from Taiwan; I doubt the name is familiar to anyone off of the island. Regardless, there is a developing post-rock scene in Taiwan, and Aphasia is at the forefront. Their 2008 debut The Crocodile Society of Aphasia
is a solid yet familiar effort that, while not breaking new ground by any means, would fit right into any post-rock collection.
When I first started listening to Crocodile
I found it entirely unremarkable; I still do. For whatever reason, though, it has become a go-to album of mine. It may be because its tracks are non-specific enough to fit a variety of moods and situations. I often find myself putting it on when it's raining, when I'm going to sleep, when I'm studying, or when I'm just lazing around.
A turn-off to some might be the band's tendency to drone or repeat riffs for just a bit
too long. Granted, they're no Sunn 0)))
. While it occasionally seems they're out to emulate Explosions in the Sky
, the tunes are nowhere near as complex. I'm not sure if the repetition is the result of style or simply amateur songwriting, but the cycling progressions add to the album's nondescriptness as a whole.
Most songs in the album start out with melodic guitar picking and rolling bass lines, but soon climax with waves of distorted chord-wailing "catharsis". It usually all seems forced, though - more like a desire to maintain the norms of post rock than anything else, which is why i've deemed them "store-brand post rock". The Crocodile Society of Aphasia
does everything you would expect, and nothing you wouldn't.
Album opener "Behind the River" is Aphasia at their most repetitious - one pretty melody that turns to a distorted, crunchy drone half-way into its seven minutes. Song number two, "Deep Spring", is the one they made a music video for, and I figure it's regarded by the band as the most epic cut on the album, although I don't find it particularly memorable. Aphasia is at their best when they stop trying to be cool; "Rain Season" and "Graduate Travel" could be considered the ballads of the album, and they're by far the prettiest and most memorable. "The Freedom Highway" is without a doubt the most fun song on the album, saving itself for second-to-last, and "Good Morning Taipei!" tries to be experimental with a one-minute intro of ambient noise before launching into another repetitious progression much like that of the first track.
had more songs like "Graduate Travel" and "The Freedom Highway" It would be an entirely different beast. What I feel makes this album so generic is the lack of any unique style - sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it drones, sometimes its on the verge of interesting, but on the whole it remains a blend of accepted post-rock norms. Aphasia plays it safe.
That said, I keep coming back to this album. Like a sponge it has soaked up my moods and experiences over the years - it knows what I know, it has seen what i've seen. To me, The Crocodile Society of Aphasia
is more than the sum of its parts, but to others it may well just sound like another generic post-rock album, which is why I'm giving it a 3 out of 5.