Reviews

Published on March 16th, 2017 | by The Beige Baron

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EXCLUSIVE: Spider Goat Canyon | Anam Cara

Photograph: Samuel Richards

The departure of a member can demoralize a band or present it with an opportunity to grow. For Melbourne’s Spider Goat Canyon, a two-piece since guitarist Steve Brick left five years ago, they’ve seen it as the latter.

Josh (bass) and Deryck (drums) have continued to write, rehearse, and perform with unwavering purpose, their determination to push musical boundaries undiminished despite the void left by Steve and his contribution to the band’s sound and aesthetic.

Spider Goat Canyon composes on the spot during rehearsals and fleshes out highlights from these sessions during live performances. Over time, these compositions morph into fully formed songs, 10 of which are featured on the band’s eighth studio full-length album Anam Cara, released today on Bandcamp.

Ideas often arise from a tone Josh pulls from his mess of effector pedals, and his sound sculptures add texture and shape to each song while still holding down a ferocious low-end groove for Deryck to work with.

Anam Cara (meaning “soul of a friend” in Gaelic) represents the “definitive” versions of songs that have been refined over long periods.

Despite being tracked in just one day by engineer Max Ducker at Cellar Session Studio “with minimal overdubs”, according to the band, the record is tightly composed, and the musicians so closely interlocked their connection seems telepathic.

Many of these compositions begin in sketched-out repetitive bass figures around Deryck’s ever-shifting meters and off-kilter fills, which seem to dance like a light-footed boxer.

Bass tones loop and swirl or pop into three-dimensional origami shapes, only to be doused in teeth-buzzing fuzz and crushed into submission with a foot on a stomp box.

Anam Cara is rhythmically complex, visceral, and primal; repetitive, but continually changing; cerebral and progressive yet funky and listenable. It’s Spider Goat Canyon at its most focused, songs machined to precision tolerances.

In a sea of lesser bass-and-drum outfits, it’s great to hear one that understands dynamics. There’s a feeling of restraint and control at key moments, a mastery of build-and-release that adds impact when the band finally unleashes in a wall of terrifying noise.

Spider Goat Canyon stands out for a unique character of sound and an unwillingness to compromise with its music. Rather than getting another guitarist and starting all over, the pair have continued with an original concept, adapted to difficult circumstances, and come out the other side stronger, leaner, and meaner than ever before.

A vastly different ride than the more ornately decorated freeform retrospective Always the Heavy, this is Spider Goat Canyon now, a two-piece in peak fighting form, and you do not want to miss them.

Anum Cara is out now on Bandcamp. Top photograph courtesy @Photoyunist.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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