Audiolepsia – ‘Muses’.
Spain appears to be producing a lot of interesting noises at the moment. Audiolepsia, a Post-Rock quartet from Barcelona, released their second album Muses in May, following on from their well received 2013 debut Principio de Incertidumbre.
Muses is presented as something of a concept album, with each track named after a different woman in some way inspirational to the band:
‘A muse: some would consider themselves lucky to have but one during their lifetime. On their sophomore release, Barcelona quartet Audiolepsia boasts seven such inspirational figures, seven quintessential females who bear the strength, wilfulness, dignity, gentility, and acuity that have led the band to compose the music that would become Muses.’
I do appreciate it when bands make an effort to form a bit of mythos around their songs, and although as a listener I wasn’t really able to pin down quite which woman each track represented without consulting the track list, it’s enough to know that the band had this in mind when composing the material – it’s a nice thematic touch.
Opening track ‘Beatrix‘ (Kiddo, I presume?) opens with textures reminiscent of Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd – I was half expecting the album to expand from this point into something inspired by classic Prog-Rock, however when the full band kick-in, things instead veer very much towards the likes of Tool and a more modern, Post-Metal style. One particular standout for me is the drumming – big, powerful fills and unfaltering, solid groove that underpins all of the tracks on this record with a style somewhere in between the late John Bonham and Danny Carey.
‘Satine‘ opens with gentle Post-Rock guitar textures but is driving and up-tempo, before branching into something almost resembling the Pop-Punk guitar work on Weezer’s Green album. To me, this change of mood felt a little at odds with the darker Post-Metal influence felt throughout the rest of the album, but it’s a change of tone that Audiolepsia seem to be comfortable with moving between throughout the record. A satisfying half time breakdown provides a lot of impact – this is the sort of thing the band do really well.
‘Motoko‘ (or should that be Major) evokes the sounds of Tool again with interlocking bass/guitar and cymbals rolling like thunder. A sparse, tasteful guitar arrangement in 6/8 has space to breathe before building into a legato line that really stands out, underpinned by some interesting tonal shifts provided by the bass. The use of restraint in this track really adds to the impact when things get heavy later on, with things sounding quite like early Oceansize. For me this track is the records highpoint.
‘Evey‘, for me at least, is a weaker moment on this record. Despite a nice arrangement, the production here feels a little overblown, with guitars and synth strings liberally drenched in delay and chorus.
Things get much better when the track gets heavier, but in general it’s all rather upbeat for me – personally, I like a bit more melancholy and rawness with my epic Post-Rock, but perhaps the abundance of positive themes here is what comes from living in a country that benefits from a decent amount of sunshine – I probably just need to go outside and lie in the sun for a minute…
‘Charlotte‘ is immediately heavy and driving, before easing into a chord sequence that again dances between major and minor. The track has more of a Hard Rock edge and makes me think of Skunk Anansie, both in terms of the chord shifts and the overall style. Stylistically, and perhaps in keeping with the concept, each track on the record does seem to have it’s own flavour and ‘Charlotte‘ is another departure from the Post- Rock/Metal styles evident elsewhere on the album – despite the stylistic uncertainty, however, it’s another solid and well written track.
‘Clarice‘ opens with footsteps on gravel and an acoustic guitar which offers a welcome change of texture. It’s a nice enough tune and builds into what I would say is the only real taste of Prog/Math on the album, a swift 7/8 section that leads into a typically punchy outro. As most of this record is played straight, it would be nice to see more of this sort of thing as the band carry it off well here.
Finally, album closer ‘Rachel‘ starts with gentle guitar picking and effective, sparse bass stabs – I always appreciate it when the bassist knows when to leave space. There is some really nice guitar work over the outro, but I did find myself wishing it was tonally a little less Steve Vai and a little more Johnny Greenwood. It’s a personal preference, but much of the guitar on this album is dripping with delay and heavy use of chorus which I think might have more impact if left as a more occasional effect.
Overall I felt that Muses is an accomplished record – there are moments that could be refined, but there is a lot to like here, with the band showing solid musicianship and a real attention to detail in the presentation of the record as a whole.
The Muses concept is an interesting one and it will be nice to see if the band expand further in this thematic direction on their next release. I’m sure that Rachel would be very pleased with the results, if she’s not too busy thinking about flipping over tortoises.
Muses is out now via Aloud Music and dunk!records
Find the band below:
- Social Media/Updates: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Official Website.
- Music: Youtube Channel, bandcamp, Spotify.
- Aloud Music: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Official Website.
- dunk!records: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Official Website.