It’s hard to describe mathrock in any other way than “Just a bunch of music majors constantly finger-tapping.” Or “Time changes. Time changes everywhere.” But neither of these descriptions apply to LITE. They are definitely mathrock, but they refuse to fall in line with every other mathrock band out there, and truly stand out as something special.
What I mean becomes apparent from the very beginning of ‘Installtion’, their latest album. They have a very linear structure, and don’t change times very often at all. It’s actually more like Post-rock with its structure: continually adding layer upon syncopated layer until it creates this wall of sound. They still retain thier mathy sound through complicated drumming and intricate guitar riffs, but they don’t sound like every other mathrock band out there. All that within 4 minutes. To say this is a roller coaster of an album would be nothing if not accurate.
Nothing is played that isn’t complimentary to another instrument at the time, everything is timed perfectly and executed as such. The textures that are made always fit so perfectly with the mood of the song. If this album had vocals, I wouldn’t be able to resist singing along, even if it were to be Japanese. The jazzy chord work in “Hunger” never fails to make me feel as if I should don a leather jacket and Ray-Bans. It’s so cool and smooth, it makes me feel like a neanderthal by comparison.
It’s difficult to think of a word other than ‘groovin’ when it comes to the bass. It’s as if the bassist has ADD in the best way possible, he can’t still for too long, he has to be doing something other than following the guitars around like a lost puppy. The way “Bond” and “Fog Up” are strung together show a certain regard for the bass that I don’t see too often in the mathrock bands I listen to. To me, it also shows a strong sense of flow for the album overall. They were very purposeful about what song goes where, rather than a mess of songs thrown together, which is becoming more popular with smaller mathrock bands I’ve noticed this past year or so.
Mathrock is trending within the smaller circles of music lovers, and it’s beginning to show in the new mathrock bands that are popping up left and right. I would suggest to these new bands that they look at bands like LITE for inspiration and guidance. Their strong sense of direction should be shining beacon to others, making the genre more enjoyable overall. And with Topshelf Records releasing this album on digital and vinyl later this year, I think that LITE becoming a mathrock cornerstone is a very distinct possibility.
You can wait for the vinyl, or buy it on tape now through Keep It Together Records if you just so happen to be the impatient type. But if you do so happen to order through Keep It Together, I would also recommend LITE’s previous album “Past, Present, Future” and Low-Pass’ “Trimurti”. Both are superb mathrock albums from Japan, without the incredulous shipping fees.
There, I’m done. On to the next review.
Seriously, there isn’t much to describe Row Boat’s latest release other than Beautiful. The opening track ‘Bella’ is a beautiful soundscape created by a myriad of instruments, showing you just how far Row Boat is from traditional post-rock. The more traditional instruments are barely audible. Like they’re trying to sound like post-postrock without being pretentious. Again, just… Beautiful.
‘Ljudet’ takes a more neo-classical turn, laid atop ambient guitars. It has a sombre feel to it, but strongly retains its beauty. The structure reminds me of Lowercase Noises’ “Migratory Patterns” EP, with the droning and slow horn progression fading in and out again. In keeping up with the romance theme, even the deepest of relationships have dark times. This is a perfect representation of that idea.
The title track ‘Romance’ is, in my opinion, representative of the more light-hearted times in a long-term relationship. It isn’t energetic by any means, but its melancholic positivity is clear. It’s far too easy to space out and think of friends during this song, but I think that’s what post-rock is partly about.
The album seamlessly progresses to its last track, ‘Gjenfodt’. The dreamy vocals singing in a foreign language are like The Dude’s rug: It ties it all together. The rhythmless structure feels like it was composed with instruments made of clouds, it’s so soft and gentle to the ears. The percussion instument sounds like a child’s toy, giving it a true sense of innocence.
The Romance theme is far too strong to ignore, upgrading this from a very impressive EP, to bery impressive *conceptual* EP. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re into sad mountains, distant boats, or lonely birds.
10/10 burning cars.