Illustration by Nathan Navetto
Whu...huh...wait, it's WHAT year, you say?
So I went to sleep back around August 2010 and suddenly woke up hooked up to a bunch of monitoring machines and it's July 2011 and I have no idea where the middle time went. O_o
In between the inevitable nausea that deep chemical hibernation seems to cause (I'll be ok...gimme a minute), I have been brought out of stasis for a particular reason. Or so this random dossier that's been slid under the door of the observation cell tells me. Allow me to read it out to you: *clears throat*
"Calgary has an absolutely kicking ambient post-rock/metal scene happening right now. We're not quite sure why all these amazing bands are happening at the same time; it might be something in the tap water, but we're not complaining. Spread the word, or face erasure. Also, don't eat the jelly beans."
*eyes the enormous jar of jelly beans that are inexplicably sitting in the corner of the room, unnoticed until now with suspicion*
The above delusion is actually a long and elaborate metaphor for where the inside of my head was like when I first heard Atomis and TRUCK!!!! destroy the Marquee Room. Part of me had decided that maybe I'm just not cut out to actually maintain a written blog since I seem to be so bad at doing it with any measure of consistency. Or lack of fangirling. Most of me had reconciled with the idea that I should just let this place die gracefully (read: in abject abandonment) and have done with it.
And as soon as I heard those two bands, I knew it was impossible. I felt like I had to write about them; like I had no choice BUT to write about them; like I'd be the worst person to exist, ever (minus the guy that invented syphilis and Stephen Harper combined) if I didn't drag this thing back from the un-dead and write about them. Because when you get down to it, it's not about indie posturing or the free stuff or the money or power or the crushing of your enemies or the lamentations of their women (because, frankly, you get none of those things by running a music blog for free). It's about having somewhere to shout from rooftops when you actually FIND amazing music that makes you lose your shite and thrash around like an epileptic cat when you see them live.
Formed from the wreckage of Calgary groups Somastate and Pure City, Atomis (pronounced ATOM-iss) sound like the love-child of Tool, Cult of Luna, and Explosions in the Sky by way of Sigur Ros. Which by thunder I wouldn't want to picture in physical terms, but sounds like angels having sex with your eardrums. Add in the amazing visuals/lights produced by insanely talented drummer Nathan Navetto and you've got one of the most mind-meltingly great bands this city has ever had to offer.
These guys are currently trying to get a grant from the Alberta gov in order to record things properly; I want it to happen so much I pray to the Elder Gods every night.
I could ramble on and on about what this band sounds like, crafting careful and clever analogies, and never get close to the simple brilliance of this description by the band themselves: "Listening to Illuminated Minerva is like riding a Metal spaceship through Outer Space." By turns punishingly intense and unbelievably gorgeous and melodic, they claim inspiration from classic prog sources like Dream Theater, Mastodon, Gojira, and Deftones, yet where another band might have taken all the worst elements possible in that combination (too-long songs, elitist elitism, prog vocals in general), they seem to have come to that logical conclusion that I reached years ago about most prog bands, being that the overwrought vocals were actually getting in the way. This makes them +10 awesome. They're currently in the studio laying down some tracks, so soon I won't be the crazy lady talking about a band that may-or-may-not exist as far as you guys are concerned.
It's also a well-known fact that their time signatures are more insane than Animal Collective's, so you can try clapping along but good f**king luck to you.
The only duo in this feature, Giordano Bassi and Bryan Buss have been playing together in some form or another since time immemorial, but are relatively new as a post-rock/indie/progressive outfit. Don't let that fool you into thinking that there's anything remotely amateur about their sound or capabilities as musicians. Inspired by everything from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Do Make Say Think, and Patrick Watson to Wild Nothing, Blonde Redhead, and The Mars Volta, this could sound like a bunch of kids fighting over the iPod but instead comes off as cohesive, lovely, and interesting, thank god. It's clear that these guys are willing to take their music anywhere and everywhere their fancy leads, all while crafting gorgeous, acoustic sonic gems.
Jung People on FBM
An unbelievably technical and impressive three-piece outfit, TRUCK!! is difficult to find via google or the internet in general given the easy ambiguity that accompanies being named after one of the most common things on Earth (alas, the extra exclamations marks don't really register as search terms). However, anyone that takes the trouble to find them is in for an ear-full of awesome. Even better, they've got an amazing sense of humour (all too lacking in today's "srsbusiness you guys" music environment). In their own words, they sound like: "Chaos and Atmosphere fighting over Elton John's sandwich."
Lastly, any band that gives away their incredible first EP for free online when I would gladly pay for it is instant love.
Illustration for "Maelstrom" by Mariella Villalobos