Conventional time signatures, beware the Kraken!
Polyrhythms rule the roost on Separate | Migrate, the new record from Austin’s The Kraken Quartet, self-released by the band this Friday. On songs like ”Ox,” that’s a real blessing — the way marimba or vibes jigger and jaunt through a crescendo of sound before landing on their feet at the face of the bass drum or snare. But, while the best moments on the disc call to mind Standards-era Tortoise or Dianogah, there’s some repetition, too, there’s some repetition, too, there’s some repetition — oh, sorry, locked groove — and, though nothing falls flat, not much soars beyond a few thousand feet above sea level, either.
That’s not to say the record’s bad. It’s a solid B outing, if not a B+ for vision. For the right ears, this stuff is dreamy and wondrous, even in its lesser moments. ”Amethyst,” with its hurtling-through-outer-space-on-a-pale-blue-dot vibes has some totally enthralling atmosphere, the aforementioned ”Ox” will drop your jaw to the floor at points, and ”Chance The Dog (the song),” which opens the proceedings, swings with an infectious funk. Think Loop 2.4.3’s Zodiac Dust with some more gravity and more gravitas and more groove.
Elsewhere, the band does a fine job of building to a prog-ish climax (”Giant Battle Robot’s Day Off,” the title track), complete with synth washes, but there’s little tension behind the eyelids as they’re trying to chew on the scenery. ”The Gates,” with its stops and starts, is ambitious to a T but doesn’t always strike the jugular when it does finally lash out. (Imagine if it did!) The Tron-ish ”Interlude One” and ”Interlude Two” are, sadly, fluff and filler.
Kraken gets points, though, for sure for how it’s trying to carve out space for itself in a post-post-rock world. Rather than resort to the clunky roar of guitar rock (God Bless It) or the cold precision of ambient music (God Bless It, Too), they’ve crafted something wholely other and, for that alone, this is worth a stream.