Having shot to prominence with last year’s Aura
, one would assume there to be a full length on Bolzer’s horizon, but the Swiss duo’s enthusiasm for the EP format seems to be paying dividends regardless of expectations placed on them. Indeed, with Soma’s
addition to their catalogue, the band have now released an album’s worth of material that is not only high in quality, but musically and thematically consistent. However, this isn’t to say that Soma
is undistinguished within the band’s discography, nor does it mean the songs would benefit from being accompanied with a greater amount of material. Soma
is unmistakably a Bolzer record, but just like its predecessor, the compositions found within have a kind of distinctiveness that the brevity of an EP seems to exemplify better than anything else.
The opening track “Steppes” wastes no time in conveying its memo, as Thierry Jones feverishly bellows before divulging into what is arguably the most infectious riff he has ever written for the project. As opposed to the incremental mood building of Aura
is significantly more straightforward, with the songs hinging more on the power of the riffs themselves instead of the complex, nuanced arrangements. Though an approach like this is susceptible to flat lining, Bolzer exude such confidence in themselves and their formula that they still succeed even at their most elementary. “Labyrinthian Graves” may be the longer, slower track of the two here, but it’s still cut from the same cloth in that the riffs take precedence over atmospherics. Jones takes full advantage of the ten strings available to him, playing an even mix of high and low register riffs comprised mostly of tremolo picking and resonant, open chords. The marching rhythms provided by drummer Fabian Wyrsch may not have the same driving force as Jones’ axe work, but is nevertheless complimentary to Soma’s
overall sense of vigour and freneticism.
It may bother some people that Bolzer insist on separating works that could coexist with ease on an album, but it’s also apparent that the guys know what works for them. Soma
functions beautifully as its own entity, irrespective of its relative lightness in terms of material. Whether the band decide to knuckle down and combine all the facets of their unique sound is a non-factor, because if they can maintain the quality of Soma
and its musical kin in future endeavours, then we really have no reason to complain as listeners.