Review Summary: A cold midnight drive through the woods of northern Maine, with the taste of dirt coffee fresh on yr tongue and the blurry images of seasons past.
Most post-rock is bullshi
t. That might sound like a gross gloss-over, but we all know it's only become more true with time. The endless amount of crescendo-core bands still popping up is simply astounding, especially considering how long the "genre" has supposedly existed for (since 1994, when Simon Reynolds attempted to describe Bark Psychosis's Hex
). Considering what was meant then, and what has happened to the sound(s) as years have passed, you'd think the genre would still be un-identifiable by any distinct characteristics, but this has not been the case. On top of all the bastardized attempts at mixing the crescendo-y aspects with other genres (I'm looking at you, post-hardcore), it's arguable the genre has been stuck in time since about 2001. This might all sound incredibly pessimistic, but I promise I'm building to a point here; Ada may be one of the saviors of what we could call "post-rock."
I was first introduced to Ada by somebody who tried to book a show at my house, and if I remember correctly, they told me they were ending this band. Unfortunately, I didn't get the memo, and I put off listening to this group until after they had disintegrated. To make matters even more regrettable, they opened for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and I missed them because I wanted to eat Subway (I can't make up a lamer excuse). Months later, when I was in a really bad mood one night, one of my friends was playing this album quietly from her phone and I was almost at a loss for words when she told me they were from here, and that they used to play a half-hour down the road from me all the time. Ever since then, I've been mildly obsessed. As for the music itself? Well...
One might be tempted to compare this to Silver Mt. Zion, since it was recorded by Efrim Menuck at none other than the Hotel2Tango. However, this is far too easy a comparison, and they certainly could not be mistaken for one another. What defines Ada is this contradictory sense of freezing-cold warmth, which is one of my favorite characteristics of music already. Everything about Ada
is sparse, almost to the point of very little actually happening throughout most of its run-time. Even though the music will have meter during the sung parts, the drummer never settles into a traditional groove, instead opting for a swish-y, jazzy approach that more feels like a percussion section than one drummer holding it down. The melodies tend to be only noticeable if you look for them, as most of the album washes over you like a cold winter breeze, where the snow slivers on the roads. In this way, it's very reminiscent of the land they come from, as you could ask any Mainer about our winters, and you're likely to get a long sigh. Bearing this in mind, Ada
acts almost like a blanket during these cold, lonesome days where you literally can't open the door without the snow caving in.
The only really definitive word I could use to describe Ada
would be "washy." The music never really has any distinct rhythmic identity, and the melodies tend to be based on notes placed far apart from one another, with the occasional vocal melody to remind us that this was all made by humans just like you and I. This isn't to say it's an inhuman album at all, in fact, just the opposite. However, it is ethereal in a way that's not always typically beautiful, but a solemn reminder of the coldest days of our lives, both figuratively and literally. If you're from New England, you probably know what I'm talking about. If not, pick this up anyway; they're the best post-rock/jazz/folk/whatever band you've probably never heard.