Caspian, Moving Mountains, O'Brother

This show has been moved from The Sinclair to Royale. All tickets will be honored.

Caspian

Moving Mountains

O'Brother

Fri, December 7, 2012

6:00 pm

Royale

Boston, MA

$13 advance / $15 day of show

This event is all ages

Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, by phone 800-745-3000 or no service charge on tickets purchased Fridays at the Royale box office from 12-6PM.

Caspian
Caspian
It’s been a while now since the term “post-rock” was first introduced to describe that fertile crescent of rock music that accentuates sound, rhythm and texture over traditional song structure—in short, freedom over form—but lately, even the music itself seems to be moving beyond the imagery of the language. From an artist’s perspective, that’s no easy feat to pull off, but over the course of three albums and nearly ten years in the trenches, Caspian has emerged as an elite band that deserves a place in the conversation about the changing face, sound and scope of instrumental rock music.

Waking Season is their strongest statement yet—a fully immersive and almost mystical sonic experience that breaks open possibilities and busts through barriers with each new listen. Recorded and mixed with producer Matt Bayles, whose matchless work with Isis, Mastodon, Minus the Bear, Russian Circles and MONO alone has made him a creative force in prog-metal and noise-rock, the album marks a real transformation for the band, according to guitarist and founding member Philip Jamieson.

“With this record we became a little less self-conscious about what we’re doing,” he observes. “We let go of those general fears that you have when you start going into new territory—wondering if people will like it, or if it’s going to connect. I think the letting go of egos was a real turnaround for us. We really believe in this record, and I guess the boldness that we feel about the music is now reflected in the album title.”

It’s a confidence that’s been inexorably building since 2003, when Jamieson and three friends—guitarist Calvin Joss, bassist Chris Friedrich and drummer Joe Vickers—took over a rundown factory near their home base in the quiet beachfront town of Beverly, Massachusetts. Almost immediately, they started bashing out the propulsive rhythms and ecstatic washes of guitar-driven sound that simmered at the core of their first EP, 2005’s You Are the Conductor. They were channeling influences as far-flung as Pink Floyd, Penderecki, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and more, but they’d also tapped into a seam of their own. Jamieson and Joss, with their intricately layered guitar parts, could be as meditative as they were explosive, while Friedrich and Vickers showed they could lay down a heavy tread of low end and big beats without sacrificing dynamics—the hallmark of any rock rhythm section that has its ears wide open.

In 2007, the band released and toured the U.S. behind a full-length album, The Four Trees, and expanded their ranks when classically trained guitarist Erin Burke-Moran joined the fold. As unique as a three-guitar lineup is in any style of music (think of Iron Maiden or even Lynyrd Skynyrd, for starters), it’s no picnic unless everyone is listening closely. “Erin is probably the greatest guitar player I’ve ever worked with,” Jamieson says. “He’s really into Segovia and Bach and a lot of the Spanish players, so he has amazing skill and an amazing ear for music.” Burke-Moran makes his presence felt on 2009’s Tertia, which ripples with chordal explorations (on songs like “Ghosts of the Garden City”) and hypnotic textures (“Epochs in Dmaj”) that were more implied, rather than heard, on the earlier Caspian recordings.

Which brings us back to Waking Season and the single-minded “all for one” sense of purpose that drove the making of the album. The band had been actively seeking a new sound, but after a few false starts, they realized as a unit that the only way to move forward was to air everything out—every hang-up, every emotion, and most importantly, every idea.

“We try to keep the band as democratic as possible,” Jamieson explains. “Anybody can bring whatever they have to the table, and I think some of the guys were a little hesitant to present their ideas, just because they were pretty different than what we’d done before. So after a bunch of long discussions, somewhere around mid-May [in 2011] we had a resurrection, and then it was off to the races. I think those conversations created an environment where everyone felt comfortable bringing their ideas to the table, no matter how different or strange they might have been.”

Possibly the band’s most radical move was recruiting Bayles to produce the sessions. “We’ve always called the shots when it comes to how we record and mix,” Jamieson says, “so at first, working with Matt was a shock to the system, but I think it was exactly what we needed. He’s very specific and has a lot of confidence in his own approach, so we just had to let go of that control, and you can hear the results of that. The music on this record is a lot more patient; it takes more time to develop, and I think we practiced that during the recording process. In the end, it was a humbling experience, but it was enlightening too.”

Fittingly, Waking Season opens with the title track; it starts with a simple piano figure and wind effects, building slowly into a lush, textural soundscape that seems to break like the morning sun over a distant horizon. “Procellous,” by contrast, surges with voice-like sounds that set the stage for the guitars—and a live string quartet—to propel the song into the stratosphere. The ten-minute epic “Gone in Bloom and Bough” oscillates through multiple moods anchored by a ghostly vocal line—a first for Caspian, and a stellar example of the patience the band exercised in arranging each song’s distinctive parts. By the time we get to the beefed-up drums of “Halls of the Summer” and the backwards loops that underpin the jazzy, pastoral groove of “Akiko,” it’s clear too that the band has opened itself up to sampling and signal-processing, but never to excess. Like the faraway sustained guitars that whistle over the top of “Hickory ’54,” or the static-frying percussion loop that kicks off “Fire Made Flesh,” every sound, organic or electronic, has its place.

“We wanted everything to sound as natural as possible,” Jamieson explains. “We tried intentionally to stay away from using canned string sounds or super-duper sci-fi synth shit. All the textures are from the guitars, or stuff I filtered through a sampler, so it never sounds as cold and coarse as something that you might create on a computer. We just wanted to make sure that all the performances were from actual real instruments, whether they’re live or processed.”

And that’s one of many discoveries to be gleaned from Waking Season: that in the right hands, the technology needn’t diminish the humanity behind the music. There’s certainly plenty of precedent for that approach, from the work of Brian Eno to Aphex Twin, but as the tools continue to morph, so does the music’s potential, to the point where any band can easily define its own genre. Call it progressive, futuristic or revolutionary—call it post-post-rock, even. Whatever your preference, the intrepid musos of Caspian are onto something different. Brace yourself.
Moving Mountains
Moving Mountains
There are moments when the members of Westchester, New York’s Moving Mountains wonder if they should’ve been born a decade earlier. Their Triple Crown Records debut, Waves, harkens back to the early 2000s and finds inspiration from bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Engine Down, Cave In, and Further Seems Forever.

“A part of us wishes we were a band that were emerging in 2001...but in a weird way, it motivates us to pick up where some of those bands left off,” says frontman Gregory Dunn.

Moving Mountains have sought to create something special, and Waves does an incredible job of proving that. The songs are teeming with resplendent, ethereal, guitar-driven atmospherics that slowly fade into your consciousness.

Gregory Dunn co-founded the band as a studio project in 2005 with drummer Nick Pizzolato. Dunn and Pizzolato wrote and recorded a self-titled demo EP that was leaked to the public in early 2006 and was followed by 2007’s Pneuma, which Deep Elm Records re-issued the following year.

“After we put out Pneuma, we formed a band to perform those songs live, and that’s when we got guitarist Frank Graniero and bassist Mitchell Lee,” explains Dunn.

That newly formed band’s first collective effort would be Foreword, a dense, 36-minute four-song EP that they released in late 2008 on their own label, Caetera Recordings. By this time, bands like Thursday, Say Anything, The Dear Hunter and Polar Bear Club had begun championing the band and inviting them on the road.

“The Say Anything tour was our first big, full U.S. tour, where we were playing in front of 1,000 people a day. We built up a ton of momentum and it just worked out. We’ve been so fortunate because it hasn’t been about trying to sell our band on people -- it’s been about trying to get in contact with them directly and then just crossing our fingers,” Dunn says.

The experience of watching crowds react to their basement creations heavily inspired them when they set out to begin work on Waves in late 2009.

“Our goal with Waves was to have someone be engaged from the start to the end,” declares Gregory Dunn.

Engaged they will be. With Waves, Moving Mountains has produced a powerful collection of majestic, post-hardcore songs that contain a textured urgency that reaches farther and harder than any of their previous work. Lyrically, the album speaks of loss and faith, intertwining topics that Dunn has long dealt with.

“When the band first started, a very close friend of mine passed away. That was one of the big motivations for all the lyrics on Pneuma. They’re very figurative and overly metaphorical, because I was embarrassed to talk about it at that time. With Waves, I said to myself that it's the last time that I’m going to write about it, so I’m going to be really blunt, honest and straightforward about the subject. Pneuma, Foreword and now Waves have all been about that... a lot of it is also my struggle with understanding faith and existence... and just about questioning those ideas--and most importantly--how to overcome that to appreciate what you have.”
O'Brother
O'Brother
There is an abiding circle: one where romance and tragedy exist together and hope coincides with desperation as a coil in nature as much as the unseen. In this understanding lies the dark themes and bruising medium of O’Brother. Carrying the weight of the luminance and spacey textures from their 2009 EP, The Death of Day, the Atlanta, Ga five some have grown into sounds of scorching heaviness and punctuated melodic interruptions that act as puzzles in-between the groaning feedback of Garden Window, the band’s debut full length.

“The more we played the more we turned our amps up and the lower we tuned,” O'Brother’s lead singer/guitarist Tanner Merritt defined the soundscapes of Garden Window. “The loud songs we wanted louder and heavier, but the quiet songs we wanted to get better at too.”
Garden Window displays more density, as the songs themselves bask in longer time frames, a dynamic intensity had to be obtained to create interest from listeners the whole way out. “We wanted curve balls,” Merritt explained as the root behind the softer interludes found midway through the atmospheric explorations.

The voice of Garden Window grew from the nourishment of the road, a relentless schedule that brought them to share stages with the likes of Thrice, Circa Survive, Cage The Elephant, and Manchester Orchestra. "Touring is your biggest influence. The way you play, the way the band plays, the whole world shifts to the view from the road, even when home.”
Though Garden Window is not a concept album, reoccurring themes mark their presence throughout each song as a metaphysical question runs through the album’s veins, one of life and what it is perceived to be. "If something is real how could you become so disconnected from it?”
As writing began for Garden Window the band decided to let fans into the process of making an album, giving them live streaming video to the demo, tracking, and mixing of the album -- a process that when viewed through a lens can be strikingly tedious as bands have to stare into screens as much as the faithful. New material was teased and brought out only at keen times, leaving even the most silent attendee guessing where Garden Window was headed.

Close friends Andy Hull and Robert McDowell of Manchester Orchestra stepped in as producers, creating not only an environment of comfort for O’Brother to stumble on discovery, but the two also served to help the band develop a more conscience presentation as Garden Window stepped into slow unfurling shades.
Always a band that makes albums rather than songs or thunderous quick timed anthems, O'Brother's Garden Window stands as a complex, yet elegant and elegiac, dance that can be felt beneath the skin. Even when O'Brother are at their most ethereal the reality of the ground stays in sight.
Venue Information:
Royale
279 Tremont St.
Boston, MA, 02116
http://royaleboston.com/