Squat Club: Corvus

The previous editor, God rest his tragic soul, sent a bunch of hard copy promos before the address was changed to the current one.  We like surprises here at Deaf Sparrow, those random, lo-fi cassettes that hide treasures within.  So in a box full of this kind of thing, there had to be at least one hit for every ten misses.  Within were some discs and tapes just too old to review; we try to keep everything within a year at most, unless it blows us away.  First, before you have a heart attack, the original editor is still alive, he's just writing now.  Second, this slipcase blew us away.  Usually, when you hear 'math' or 'prog' with any genre thereafter to dilute, it means 'an excuse for technicality that never goes much of anywhere'.  The riffs pulse and crescendo, arpeggios serve as the chorus, there are some random screams about girlfriends and pornography in free verse, and somehow it's released as an "album" to "fans" or in reality merely would rather play the part of being "different" instead of actually enjoying something that deserves to be enjoyed.  The music is free verse, and it's about as cool as freebasing.  Australia's Squat Club (also spelled as Squatclub in some instances) are the exact opposite.  They were an underground sensation in Sydney in 2008, disbanded, came together for a reunion of sorts in 2010, and this pretty little genus of an album (yes genus, not genius) is all that remains.  What utter tragedy for the music world.

 

Corvus opens with the title track and there's already so much to discover with these guys that it basically defies description.  Or, rather, we're too poorly endowed in word-play to pull it off.  "Math" bands often like to pretend they're complex, when they're complex for the sake of complex, not for the sake of art.  In fact what they usually think is "complex" is actually facile nonsense.  It's not really complexity so much as it is a bunch of randomness bands call "complex" to hide their lack of playing ability.  Plucking up and down the fretboard while the drummer blast beats off-kilter like a metronome at prestissimo doesn't by itself entail the complex.  Actually it sounds like utter crapola.  Squat Club, however, got the 'math' and 'prog' thing down to a definition.  Progressive and/or math rock needs to push boundaries, but it also needs to have some accessibility to the listener.  This means, it needs to sound like music.  Just because something is inaccessible doesn't mean it's the next horizon for musical development.  Often it's just a damn excuse for the lack thereof.  Corvus, though, this is another type of 'daimn son'.  This is 'daimn' as in where to even begin talking about this properly?  Let's just jump right into it and let the words lead us.

 

Corvus is a true work of prog, honestly.  The music incorporates several instruments including at least two guitars, bass, inventive drumming, and synth that sounds like various parts of a symphony, though primarily of the string and winds variety.  One shockingly interesting aspect of this release are the vocals, which go from film noir chants to frantic screaming and cavernous moans.  Chords twist and loop and random breaks in tempo appear without feeling extraneous.  You get a great deal of effects as well, but finely crafted.  Often if you see a guitarist with a pedal board that makes them look like a tap dancer, you soon realize they're using effects simply to use them, without any real thought.  That is, they're covering their own lack of talent with pedals, some of which usually don't work when it's time to use them.  Squat Club, however, use this further layer of intricacy with style.  Each effect presented on this release creates atmosphere and mood, putting it all together in one huge tapestry that is slowly painted together throughout the album's entirety.  The sheer variety of styles mixed together here without separating them is enough to draw in prog/math fans.  You get slower, ambient sections, brutally dense, gritty rushes of power, hazy vocal walls, basically everything you'd really expect to get out of this kind of music.  It's a shame these guys apparently came and went, going off in their own directions, such as the continuously weird Anklepants, because most so-called supergroups are just that, so-called.  These guys do it by the definition, redefine it, and publish it.  Lots of great material here and some impressive moments in experimentation.  Much more than our poor words can capture.  Most of the tracks run over ten minutes.  The only complain we could possibly find was the final, untitled track, which was simply a drawn-out series of rumbles and dark static.  It wears itself out in about five minutes, but it scarcely affects the overall presentation.

 

Corvus on Bandcamp

Squat Club Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Squat Club: Corvus
Bird's Robe Records
4.5 / 5