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Animals As Leaders : Weightless

Animals as leaders (AAL) take instrumentalism to another level. The amount of emotions and genre versatility the band pours into their albums is unmatched.

Their first release which was produced by Misha ‘Bulb’ Mansoor of Periphery was less of a band effort and more of showcasing Tosin Abasi’s (Lead ‘8 string’ guitarist) guitar skills. It also had programmed drums which made the album worth relishing but leaves a bit of a want to hear something with the real thump .

Their second offering called ‘Weightless’ was more of a test than a release. It tested the sound and feel of the band with a REAL drummer. It tested the production value since their prior work lacked heavily on production terms. It also tested on how AAL sounded as a band together and not just Tosin showing off his skills.Amazingly, AAL passed with flying colors.

Right from the first track AAL takes you on a journey which is ‘weightless’ in true sense. You do not have the confines of a genre or theme or even time-signatures (sick swings between tracks). Tosin not only brings out the best in him but also merges successfully with the band and becomes one when it comes to creating ambient drum-riff combos or just tapping when the drummer takes charge.

The album starts with ‘An Infinite Regression’ which is one of the ‘Best First’ tracks I’ve heard since a long time. Tosin doesn’t fill in solos just to please – he fills in emotions which turn out to riffs. The solo in this song makes you realize what Tosin is trying to convey without even the need of words.
‘Somnarium’ is one such gem – classical songwriting layered with modern groove , the song is a roller coaster of crackling riffs one after the other.
‘Isolated Incidents’ which was released as a single and the finest track in the record in terms of grip,guitar work,songwriting and song structuring. The guitar virtuoso baffles you with a single riff which loops itself after almost 20 seconds in the song.
‘Do No Go Gently’ has a trippy feel to its whole structuring and showcases probably the best rudiments by the drummer in the whole track.
The tracks transition as if there is a storyline told musically. Ex – the track ‘To Lead you to an overwhelming question’ is a mad track with sick time signatures and suits the title and then sinks into a dark ,broody and ambient ‘Weightless’ in a way that is unreal even to seasoned ears.
The culminating moments of the track ‘Weightless’ has one of the best riffs/solos iv heard in recent times – it twists you from the inside and spills out Tosin’s magic and your admiration at the same time.

All said and done, AAL is not a band for listeners who wish to tap their feet 20 seconds in the song ,neither it is for people who are looking for growls which take you beyond brutality  .It takes its time and beautifully lets you grow into it ,never to come out.The band is a boon for people looking forward to hear something musically baffling and at the same time de-stressing the minds which get torn and tattered in todays fast paced world.Put this in your iPod/phone/music player and go on a  long journey – you will have two journeys in one – one of your own and a musical one by AAL

Rating – 9/10

Chimp Spanner : All Roads Lead Here EP (2012)

Chimp Spanner never lets you down – be it the musically diverse and rebellious ‘At The Dream’s Edge ‘ or the latest offering ‘All Roads Lead Here’. As a listener, i always wanted and imagined music breaking the barriers of genre – how bands would one day come up with music that is just impossible to classify into a particular genre. Something that music lovers could just absorb , and find something new to savor with every listen,relate to their own taste.

With bands like Animals As Leaders and Chimp Spanner making music which isn’t just musically advanced and brilliant , but also spans an array of sounds and musical elements.Paul Ortiz a.k.a Chimp Spanner does exactly this with the latest release.While recent bands who are cashing on the ‘Djent’ scene go haywire with the ‘low tuned’ guitar sound – Chimp Spanner sticks to standard tuning , incorporates ‘Djent’ and yet does full justice to other elements which are used in the songs , all at ease.In terms of production value – its priceless.

The album starts off with ‘Dark Age Of Technology’ which travels to your ear from a distance (Literally!) and comprises of Paul’s guitar wizardy backed by some amazing bass grooves. To be honest the first track sounded like an Animals As Leaders track and got me thinking of how the rest of the EP would sound like .But to my surprise , it proved to be amazing.’Engrams’ is an relaxing interlude that follows and builds up for the ‘Mobius series( Parts I, II and III).Mobius – which mathematically means a 3D rectangular strip which starts from one point and ends at the same point.

Why the need for the above statement? The sheer brilliance of the 3 track series lies in the fact that Paul creates a musical ‘Mobius’. The series is aptly ( and intelligently) titled ‘Mobius’ – where Mobius Pt I builds up the tempo with a constant and looped shred-fest. Mobius Pt II is where the same sound builds up into a beast and has some really insane time-signature swings.The track culminates into a mellow ambient sound and the Mobius Pt III combines best of both. Notable is how Paul manages to keep the riffs looped in the same tempo and yet travels through each track ,varying the ambience and heaviness effortlessly.I would go far by saying this but musically it does rival Tesseract’s ‘Concealing Fate’ series.Paul leaves the best for the last – the closing track ‘Cloud City’ is by far the most ‘musically delicious’ track my ears have bit on. The tones ,the riffs the song structure is worth million praises. It is a cocktail of jazzy atmospherics and Paul’s unique style.
Though it is an EP , ‘All Roads Lead Here’ does have the presence of a full length record. It encompasses such variety in so little time which is also something not every artist/band can do.

For the fans of Chimp Spanner – this is an album which takes you into a completely different mystical and orgasmic world and does not sound anything like Chimp’s prior works.
For the new ‘Chimps’ – finding bands from a similar genre and then listening to each is mostly the strategy all of us follow ,but if you wish to hear something that is practically ‘beyond genre’ and fits every mood of yours into one tight album effortlessly, then – ‘All Roads Lead Here’.

Rating – 8.5/10

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