Back in early 2000, when my first encounter with the term ‘post-rock’ happened, I didn’t realize how you can make post something, that literally happens in the here and now. So I looked it up and discovered that the press calls an album like Ecim by Cul De Sac – post rock – the year, 1989.
It still wasn’t clear to me. Then I first heard Godspeed You! Black Emperor and started to investigate almost everything Constellation Records had to offer and I thought I got it. I thought it was a Canadian thing, of bands who seeks to reflect feelings of depression and loneliness in a different way, without lyrics, and it made sense to me, Canada is a far place, cold that often get mocked by its US neighbors.
Then in 2003 I heard Rock Action by Mogwai, Scottish band, and it finally stroke me – post rock is a global way to transcend these feelings that are present worldwide, it’s just nature, weather, politics and general aesthetics that is differ one band from another.
So listening to Carta‘s second album, a band from San Francisco, and reading their one page that starts with a quote from Allmusic.com and exemplifies in many words other then ‘post-rock’, why Carta IS a post-rock band – made me suspicious about them. What can you possibly do in 2010 in that area that hasn’t been done before? Heavier strings ? (you can’t beat the 100 people assembling Godspeed), more depression? (come one, there’s a place for only one Things We Lost In The Fire), more melancholy? (Tindersticks? can you beat that?).
I almost skipped that record just because I had enough with the post-pre genres. Read the subtitle of this blog. I was sarcastic as usual when I wrote it.
But because it’s a record released by Silber who’s in charge of great releases like Rollerball‘s albums, and Sarah June‘s and Moodring and others – I decided to give it the proper listening that a label I like so much deserves. And boy, am I glad I did that.
I found out a knock out album, Index Of Birds is the title, and porcelain dolls starring on the front cover. I hate to use clichés, but obviously something fragile was waiting for me inside the album, and since I’m full of compassion for the fragile people of the universe, it made me even more curious.
What Carta has to offer is the, ahm, post-rock in its most sincere and modest way. No heavy orchestrations, partly ambient-experimental tracks and partly songs. The mood brings to mind a lonely stroll in the dirty streets of the city at 5 o’clock in the morning. It’s not rainy, it’s not hot nor cold. It’s grey, heavy grey, that penetrates the dark skies of the night just before dawn.
The record scratches the surface of a slight melancholy but doesn’t present depressive melodies. Sure, the melancholy is there, it is five o’clock and the streets are dirty, but it has some kind of hope underneath the tele/stratocaster guitars of Kyle Monday and Sacha Galvagna.
Surprisingly, my favorite track is somewhat the most ‘conventional’ song in that array of compositions. Building Bridges, that for some reason reminds me of Tall Firs of all bands, brings all these emotions I’ve stated above. Who Killed The Clerk sounds a bit out of conext with his faster tempo and plain rockish attitude, but they placed it in the right place of the song order, and it’s somehow a relaxation to the mind and ears.
The beginning of the record, with Alfred M (who’s he?) – an ambient piece, and the closure of The Late Alfred M is a minimalistic piano based track. Both of them put the entire album in a context of a story and gives a thematic view of the album, like a David Lynch movie that after you watch it entirely, get the overall picture, you gotta see it again, to seek for the little hints and undercurrent layers.
Index Of Birds is like that, an album that grows on you, that is not clear, that you know there’s an added value to it that you haven’t discovered yet, and then – click on the first track, run the entire album start to finish to find some more hints. I felt like playing a LucasArts quest back in 1993, every move of an object on the screen can cause failure or on the other hand – reveal the core of the puzzle you’re straggling to solve.
Carta’s new album should definitely put them on in the king sized bed of monsters like Low and some of Constellation bands, and it should give a warning sign to Mogwai to get their acts together and starve again, because as Carta proves, when you are a new, beginner and you want to make it, being hungry is the most crucial thing. I’d give them half of my sandwich but nothing more. Let them starve, it’s good for them.
Buy : Silber Records