Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tabula Rasa - The Role of Smith

I'm not really sure how I came across Tabula Rasa's 'The Role of Smith'. I know I purchased it at a Warped Tour in Pittsburgh at which I was because I was interested in seeing Glassjaw, Rise Against, and like minded groups live. I was in the various booths section and while looking for something to purchase I believe somebody from AF Records came up to me and talked me into buying this record. That is the vague remembrance I have, anyways this was kind of different from the stuff I was listening to at the time. I was versed in Fugazi which represents the post-hardcore this group is based in, but Tabula Rasa has a distinctive math rock core. This is most likely because of their birthplace which also happens to be Pittsburgh. Don Caballero may be that city’s most important export and the influence of them is felt on this record immensely. What is interesting is that members of Tabula Rasa would in the future meet up with Mike Banfield of Don Cab fame. Tabula Rasa seems distinctive of recent groups like Kidcrash and Off Minor in terms of instrumental prowess, but the vocals and song structures do evoke a more poppy background. 'More Words Than Not' is a clear example of how catchy the group can be with its distinctive switches between calm, melodic portions to stretched out mini-crescendos. I guess simply put Tabula Rasa kind of sounds like the meeting point between At the Drive-in and Three Penny Opera.

Tabula Rasa's 'The Role of Smith'
Dynamically 'The Role of Smith is excellent. This group of musicians were perfect at letting the songs boil down and up at the correct time and also with their version of repetition. Songs don't really follow verses and choruses rather verses and choruses follow the songs seemingly popping up in between various guitar intricacies and drum fills. This works beautifully making tracks like 'How Old Are You..?' and the instrumental 'The Eating Contest' seem fluid yet extensively composed. The fluid nature of the music drifts into the playing of each member of the band and everything from the rhythm section to the vocals all seems to have a placement in the construction of the songs. The main problem of the record seems to be because of its rather spotty production. The guitars seem a little weak, the bass a little out of place, and the drums not pristine enough. I often over look this fact by simply rationalizing that it was on a record label run by Anti-Flag so obviously they weren't that concerned with releasing a completely amazing package. 'The Role of Smith' is a fabulous example of post-hardcore and should definitely be investigated by anyone interested in the genre.

Ghostlimb's 'Bearing and Distance'
I've also included Ghostlimb's latest record 'Bearing and Distance' on this post. I have the vinyl release of this record, but the CD version apparently possesses more tracks so I figured I'd upload that one. This record is one of the best hardcore records I've heard in '08 yet. It features members of Graf Orlock who I'm not really a fan of but to think that group has helped this one come to be justifies its worth ten fold. There are numerous nautical references all over the record and stylistically it sounds wrapped in despair similar to its themes. Essentially a trio playing some of the most aggressive and interesting hardcore these days and live they are equally as entertaining. Certainly a group anyone interested in aggressive music should check out.

Tabula Rasa - 'The Role of Smith' (2003)
Ghostlimb - 'Bearing & Distance' (2008)


Palbo said...

Estamos jugando al ajedrez.

Yo muevo tus piezas y vos movés las mías.

Entonces, ¿por qué son "tuyas" tus piezas y "mías" las mías?

Estamos viviendo.

Josh Brown said...

Fantastic blog you have here. Really refreshing and great to read alongside "Zen & the art...". It inspires me to start digging a little deeper in my posts.