Over the next two weeks in Melbourne, three local bands whose latest releases have all been on high rotation on my CD player and iPod, International Karate
, Souls on Board
and New Estate
all play live shows across Melbourne. So I thought it'd be a good opportunity to put together a few ATR blog entries about why these are super CDs.
First up it’s grandiose post rock purveyors, International Karate
On the only other IK release which I've had the pleasure of hearing, their second album, 2004’s A Monster in Soul
, you can find a series of compositions which compare admirably with more heralded post-rock artists such as Mogwai
and Explosions in the Sky
. IK utilise the same quietly beautiful, slowly intense ebb and flow song structures which are the trademark of the genre, but their MO is to deliver the package with less shards of distorted noise, experimentation and general angst but with more melancholy and melodrama than their contemporaries.
On their latest release, More of What We’ve Heard Than We’ve Heard Before International Karate
mix with the post-rock formula to shape a more defined niche for their sounds. For starters there is the production. Darkness still invades many of the soundscapes but the shades are more pronounced, more vibrant and awash in a dreamy echoey synthy haze rather than hidden beneath the cleaner ebony and ivory driven rhythms of their previous creations. Often accompanied by a tighter slappier bass and electric drum kit, emphatic chiming creaking guitars and starker production the record feels like a soundtrack from a modern re-creation of an 80s science fiction noir.
There are still a handful of epic crescendos on their new record, but where previously they have gracefully emerged, now they unwrap themselves more purposefully before calmly settling back into the atmosphere. On A Shadow Told Me
, IK even deliver their sonically retextured peaks and troughs under three minutes.
IK further extend themselves in other ways too. Vocals are now embraced more warmly. Guest Laura Jean
poignantly delivers the shimmering and murmurous Falling Water,
while two of the other non-instrumental tracks, Only Good Will Come of This
are thriving urgent disco pop songs.
For all this posturing though, some may find International Karate’s
genre experimentation too varied, too eager perhaps to shed a perception of post-rock imitators. For me this is not the case, the sequencing, while not seamless, is not aurally abrasive because of the consistent emotional murkiness of the mix. International Karate
have bravely challenged themselves with More of What We’ve Heard Than We’ve Heard Before
and succeeded by delivering a thoroughly interesting, gallant and enigmatic new record.International Karate play the Spanish Club this Friday. Support from The Answering Belles, Souls on Board and Sixteen Millimetre. All of IK's records are released on the Sensory Projects label.