Gregor Samsa are an American post-rock band from Richmond, Virginia. Having started off with the typical set up of guitars, drums and bass they have gradually let classical instruments such as violins and oboes seep into their music. Named after the protagonist in Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' - a novel in which Gregor wakes up in the body of an insect and his family's reaction of disgust causes him to wish to cease living - the band produce what can often be described as very bleak music, but at the same time has a comforting nature to it. Their music has also 'metamorphosed' from album to album as their ideas have become more classically orientated and more unique. 'Rest' is an album that sees a nice, healthy amount of progression from Gregor Samsa.
Their sound has progressed since '55:12' as a more classical influence can be found on 'Rest'. 'Rock' instruments such as electric guitars and bass guitars are still present however, but their role is very minimal. Instead classical strings and pianos take centre stage. Their sound focuses on a progression of motifs, rather than the crescendos and development of textures that most post-rock bands tend to concentrate on. Album centrepiece 'Jeroem Van Aken'
focus on a crescendo. Although, it is done so subtly that it has an almost hypnotic effect on the listener, as it moves from pounding tom-toms to a haunting chant of "All things come and go, but we won't break." The vocals are an important component on 'Rest' as they appear in some shape or form on nearly every single track. The layered vocals of 'Ain Leuh'
are typical of the vocal work throughout the album as male and female vocals are in unison, creating a very ethereal sound.
Part of the genre of post-rock's charm is to convey moods and create atmosphere effectively. The mood/atmosphere that 'Rest' is attempting to imitate is rather hard to categorize though. This is not a bad thing though. The ambient xylophone melodies and gradually increasing orchestral accompaniment of album opener 'The Adolescent'
has warm ambient tones to it, yet at the same time the sparseness of the track suggests bleakness and dreariness. However, the listener chooses to perceive it, 'Rest' is still a very beautiful album. For example the glorious piano flourishes of 'Pseudonyms'
recall post-rock act Eluvium at his most inspiring while the mini-epic 'First Mile, Last Mile'
's cold ambience and classicism is similar to that of Sigur Ros before ending with a crushing wall of guitars. Really, this would have been the ideal end to the album, but instead the disappointingly short and ineffective 'Du Meine Leise'
closes the album. It is a shamefully underwhelming end to what is otherwise a brilliant album.
In a genre where bands are seemingly sounding more and more alike with each passing day, Gregor Samsa are fairly unique. This is of course, something to be applauded. While many bands now incorporate classical elements, few do it to the extent that Gregor Samsa do. On 'Rest' they have found their niche between the dynamically driven, 'rock'-end of the spectrum and the ambient, classically influenced end of the genre. Overall, 'Rest' is a very accomplished, and more importantly, interesting