Gyroscope: Bûche

[nara]: ep
Cell Art

ep features two instrumental post-rock epics by [nara], a double guitar-based quartet formed in 2002. The band's sound might be characterized as Mogwai-meets-Sigur Rós, with tremulous guitars scaling peaks at one moment and settling into ambient calm the next. Each of the largely down-tempo pieces (“Escalade of Unconscious Fear” and “The Pills Arrive on Friday,” 14 and 13 minutes respectively) moves through episodes that are raw, placid, turbulent, and atmospheric but the disc's most memorable moments are those when the guitars swell majestically in a manner that recalls the bowed guitar style associated with Sigur Rós.

On its first major release Bûche, Montreal-based instrumental quartet Gyroscope pursues a less axe-centric direction compared to [nara]. Gyroscope's guitar-and-keyboards front-line allows for a wide range of textures, enabling the group's material to sound alternately spacey and funky. Stylistically, the group gravitates towards intricate, prog-styled compositions (“Épaxilé”) though makes room for an occasional excursion into jazz, funk-fusion, and psychedelia too. On the plus side, Gyroscope's material burns with a raw intensity (“Toutes nos lignes sont présentement occupies,” the searing guitar freakout “Girouette”); on the down side, the group's material could sound fresher. “Le tunnel” is appealingly urgent but a bit too Doors-like to my taste, and “Qui c'est qui a invité l'yâbe?” cops the basic feel of “Moondance” in its first half and sounds too much like King Crimson in its second (Yves Beauchemin does a pretty convincing Fripp imitation in “La ruche” too). The level of musicianship isn't an issue, just the material.

January 2007