There are different types of music listeners. You have those who clench their pillows tightly as they struggle to relate to lyrics. And then you have those who subconsciously tune ’em out while getting lost within a song’s instrumentation. More often than not, we fall within the latter categorisation. Not to mean that we don’t give two hoots about lyrical eloquence, it just means that we acutely perceive minute alterations in music – a chord souring from major to minor, a swift switcheroo from 6/4 to 9/8, or overlapping melodies communicating with one another. Dissecting musical constituents becomes like a puzzle game to us: spot the quirks if you can. To our gratification, Moirai has many.
Aside from its album-opening minute of morose guitar swirls and foreboding drum thumps, “Mono” is a sonic stampede that heralds the arrival of this alt-rock quartet. More monolithic than monotonous, “Mono” makes an imposing first impression with guitar duels between high, sustained wails and mid-range psych-fuzzed drawls; while toms tumble in like rolling thunder. “DeLorean” even shows us some bass bad*ssery with some crunchy melodies of its own, busting through the low-end with clarity. And like propelling through time at 88mph, the track electrifyingly trails off with axe-burning finger-taps that Eddie Van Halen would head-bang to.
Raw instrumentation might feel naked without the masking of vocals; its intricacies vulnerable to scrutiny. But for a band as technically tight as Sphaeras, the lyrical abandonment is a trump card, for it advantageously flaunts the flawlessness of their techniques. Moirai is an intrepid showcase of these four lads’ abilities, dismissing the notion that – despite only surfacing last year at Baybeats – they are forgivably green. With tracks this preposterously ambitious, Sphaeras has absolutely nothing to feel sorry for, except for the fact that they’ve set the bar staggeringly high for the future of the instrumental rock scene.
For instance, Sphaeras exhibits that – while utlising the belligerent elements normally associated with a post-rock outfit – it isn’t always about playing as raucously as you can. There are moments in “Människa” where the band creates tamer textures with noise-inflected drones and tambourine rattles. Even its collaboration with the now-defunct alt-rock band, Two Seas, on “Ensemble” isn’t as destructive as one might expect; idyllically pacing the collective carnage with toned-down interludes and slow-ascending build-ups. Basic oft-neglected rule of tension-and-release – these guys got it.
One track does stand out to us, and it’s not just because it happens to be Moirai’s lengthiest piece at 8:28. Unlike its title, “Same Decaying Matter” possesses a progression that’s barely stale. Shaking off an introductory finger-tapped arpeggio, slide guitars drift in like a country-esque intrusion that intriguingly fits. Brisk quavered hi-hats then cater to indie-rock zealots momentarily, before the song melts into a shimmering puddle of Boards Of Canada-like ambient. Which in turn, escalates towards a pinnacle of double pedals and string shreddage that’s – for lack of a better word – Godly.
Perhaps it’s slightly apropos of Sphaeras to bestow their first full-length with a title that honours the Greek Goddesses of fate. We ourselves can’t say we particularly believe in arcane mythologies or spiritual forces of nature at work – only in what we’re able to see…or in this case, hear. Sphaeras is a burgeoning entity truly blessed with a gift – one that handles the interplay between instrumental dexterity, nebulous structures and transcendent climaxes with utmost precision. And it rings all over this bravura debut record. But don’t take our word for it. Let Sphaeras’ music do the talking. Only the music.
Moirai can be streamed and purchased at sphaeras.bandcamp.com.
Images Melvin Ong