In a world, musical and otherwise, that seems to be developing a “post-” something or every passing day, the genre most popularly described as post-rock seems now to be appropriate for soundtracks in which only chords and instrumentation can truly capture a feeling or a story. No more words.
Well, Taiwan, you have a good representative of this beautiful, wordless rock ’n’ roll genre in Aphasia, to be sure. The four piece from Taipei have been around in some form or another since the 1990s, but The Crocodile Society of Aphasia is their North American debut LP (originally released in 2008, it is just now receiving distribution here with a little help from Arts & Crafts). Coming on the heels of the band’s first work, soundtracking the 2007 Taiwanese independent film Summer’s Tail, Aphasia shows how far they’ve come from succinct instrumentalists to living, breathing, feeling musical storytellers.
Beginning with “Behind the River,” the record’s tone is set immediately to evoke substantial emotion. The slow, steady picking of the lead guitar is a reticent opening of a story into the ears and then into the mind. Its repetitive build is soon swooped over by high-altitude backing guitar work. The two play a sweet musical game until a final strum-strum-strum builds into a heavy electric guitar and gives way to a distorted finale.
“Deep Spring,” “Rainy Season,” and “Graduate Travel” (yes, the slow and tender songs have aloof, poetic coffeehouse names) are all cut from the same cloth, yet deliver different musical messages with discreet nuances.
“Deep Spring” reaches its heaviest point earlier than the other aforementioned songs, before meandering through guitar chord-dom and drum-rolls. “Rainy Season” actually sounds like sitting through a rain storm, although the rain showers in Taipei are apparently vastly inspiring and damn frightening at points. The song’s guitar-bass-cymbal droplets from its intro swell to a maelstrom. The wonderment-cum-guitar spaciness on “Graduate Travel” lead to a deep and brutal guitar swirl only to break down into studied drum and guitar call-and-response.
But the band can mix it up, tossing in challenging musicianship that ranges from the speedy epic “MetalTank” to the progressive poppiness on “The Freedom Highway.” “This is a Go” is an inspired and jagged version of grunge repositioned in the musical genre canon. And in “Good Morning! Taipei” the quartet closes the album with the crawl and creep of multiple instruments’ reverb, lost in the musical mist. The guitar and drums play an innocent game before pointing toward the heart and a crescendo, then plummet into a barrel-roll of guitar-bass effect and into the greatness of Aphasia’s musical society.
The influence behind the project was simply everyday life and the way it works in modern Taipei – it’s a Crocodile Society, if you will. Just like the record, sometimes it seems to drone on forever, following some rote pattern. But an introspective look and listen can reveal the nooks, crannies, and tales played out by guitar, drum, bass, and some pedals. It’s the perfect way to tell the story of one post-rock band’s musical perspective in this post-modern world.Visit: Aphasia | White Wabbit
Purchase: Insound | eMusic