Conventional time signatures, beware the Kraken!
Polyrhythms rule the roost on Separate | Migrate, the new record from Austinâ€™s The Kraken Quartet, self-released by the band this Friday. On songs like â€œOx,â€ thatâ€™s a real blessing â€“ 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, thereâ€™s some repetition, too, thereâ€™s some repetition, too, thereâ€™s some repetition â€“ oh, sorry, locked groove â€“ and, though nothing falls flat, not much soars beyond a few thousand feet above sea level, either.
Thatâ€™s not to say the recordâ€™s bad. Itâ€™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. â€œAmethyst,â€ with its hurtling-through-outer-space-on-a-pale-blue-dot vibes has some totally enthralling atmosphere, the aforementioned â€œOxâ€ will drop your jaw to the floor at points, and â€œChance The Dog (the song),â€ which opens the proceedings, swings with an infectious funk. Think Loop 2.4.3â€™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 (â€œGiant Battle Robotâ€™s Day Off,â€ the title track), complete with synth washes, but thereâ€™s little tension behind the eyelids as theyâ€™re trying to chew on the scenery. â€œThe Gates,â€ with its stops and starts, is ambitious to a T but doesnâ€™t always strike the jugular when it does finally lash out. (Imagine if it did!) The Tron-ish â€œInterlude Oneâ€ and â€œInterlude Twoâ€ are, sadly, fluff and filler.
Kraken gets points, though, for sure for how itâ€™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), theyâ€™ve crafted something wholely other and, for that alone, this is worth a stream.