Sunday 27 January 2013

Epistasis - Epistasis (Album Review)

Epistasis cover art
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/04/2012
Label: The Path Less Travelled
Track Listing
1) Wroth 04:33
2) Transience 03:14
3) Wretched 05:34
4) Dangling 07:27
5) Psychalgia 03:53
6) Yegge 05:44
7) Abscissin 04:16
The band initially became an entity in 2008, but didin't reach its current form until September 2011. It underwent 3 different line-ups, and a few aesthetic shifts. In its current state I feel it is the best, most honest and sincere realization of my ideas in this musical "genre”. The concept behind compositions is basically to make heavy music (metal, noise, rock etc.) that is informed by contemporary concert music (serialism, atonality, electro-accoustic etc.) within a song / band format.
The instrumentation and line-up are:
Amy Mills - Trumpet / laptop processed trumpet  
Joelle Wagner - Bassoon / bassoon run through an amp/distortion/octave
Kevin Wunderlich - Guitar                                                                             
Mike Rasimas - Drums

Amy Mills, Mike Rasimas (featured on the record but since replaced by Alex Cohen), Kevin Wunderlich, and Joelle Wagner form the New York based band- Epistasis.  Masterminding the project the way Albert Ayler would sound if he happened after the birth of metal; Amy Mills composed some extreme psychedelic music and assembled a live act that would rival bands like- Tortoise, Don Caballero or the late great Sonic Youth at their noisiest. It’s atmospheric, aggressive, and subtle, the way a good instrumental band should be.
They have the talent to use their dynamics as weapons, not mindlessly floundering around after the first two songs like most new instru-bands do. It’s similar to soundtrack ambience and reminds me of Ennio Morricone’s “Crime and Dissonance” collection. Their music is like a representation of the history of time, from dinosaurs to the noise filled 21st century, breaking from the traditional verse-bridge-chorus format, and composing ‘movements’ in the classical sense of the word. But don’t let the ‘classical metal’ label fool you into thinking that Epistasis is like some bad Dream Theater album. 
The seven tracks posted online don’t sound like a group of avant-garde music students randomly screwing around with alternate time-signatures, not necessarily a bad thing if you’re into that, but this is music that smashes your brains out with precision. Enter at your own risk.
Tracks like “Psychalgia” revolve around a tribal drum beat, while guitars and horns play dissonant melody lines, but rhythmically entwined. There are stops and pauses, stutters and open space, but there is always a forward motion that feels good, similar to mid-period Captain Beefheart records. I wonder how much of this is improvised if any. “Yegge” kicks off like early King Crimson, very intense and tight but moves into the realm of the post-rock genre of the 90’s bands like Slint and Polvo. It’s very experimental music to say the least. One might wonder if this band falls into any category other than their own. The band’s dynamics are well rehearsed and well played like an orchestra. That is the focus of this music, controlled dynamics. But there’s also an element of free form jazz, or rather the philosophy of it, that anything can be music if done interestingly and unique.
Epistasis is for the open-minded and the sonically elite. You won’t hear hit singles, but they’re neither a complete free-for-all noise act. There is a clear vision, a post-apocalyptic sound that they’ve invented from a wide variety of influences from Black Sabbath to Arnold Schoenberg. Epistasis is intriguing, cutting edge, post-rock/deconstructionist illuminati. 
Written by: Lee Diamond
Another stunning record and as ever show your support to the band. Thanks to Sean at The Path Less Travelled. Check the links for more info on the band. Record is available to buy on bandcamp or via the label