08 Jan 2022 - Simon
cinematic post-rock Post-metal | Release date: 01 Jun 2021 | Favorite song: Cotopaxi
Denver based newcomers ABANDONS release their first album as a live experience. It’s quite a bold move but one which they ultimately manage to make work rather successfully
ABANDONS are a band who started out with a massive slice of unlucky pie, you see: they formed at the end of 2019, just before some mega flu or something swept the planet like a tsunami. You could have forgiven them for saying, “Look, this just wasn’t meant to be our time, let’s chalk it up as a rum do and let’s try again when all this nonsense has blown over shall we?” And you would not be silly to think so, so it is with great pleasure to me that they carried on and are not only still a band but managed to write, record and play live these songs which they have managed to create.
Not having played live in front of folk can be both a blessing and a curse: it’s good in that you can hone your skills as a band without the pressure of someone watching you, waiting for you to mess up, but on the other hand, bands generally get together so they can play live in front of people and thrive off the energy created by a room full of folk digging what you have created. So, to get round this issue, the band managed to play a set in a small café which was recorded and subsequently sent out into the world as this here 4 song EP.
It’s quite a tactic to issue your very first recording as a live recording, as oftentimes live bands can sound a bit, well, off. Not in this case though. In all honesty, half the time I was listening to this record I kept forgetting that it was recorded live, the production and sound quality are actually very good indeed.
Things kick off with the Dune-themed “Arrakis” which starts with quite a lengthy build up and quiet ambience which is rather lovely in and of itself. Some bands treat the quieter sections as an excuse to take a break and confuse ambience with mood setting fluff - not these guys, they fully intertwine the two sides of their sound into a cohesive whole. When the full band kick in proper, we have quite a melodic flair going on, admittedly the guitar tone takes some getting used to but that aside, it’s quite beguiling and I fully appreciated the effect it must have if listened to in a room with other people. Apparently, they make full use of cinematic visuals to go with their sound which I’m guessing would elevate the music to a whole new level.
Next song “Coffee Highway” is for me all about the rhythm section, it has a nice driving drum beat which propels the song forward and a complementary bass sound which sits atop it and adds real depth, as well as being quite funky. This song also showcases the guitar player’s looping skills which really come to the foreground and add proper texture. At times I’m not overly enamoured with the guitar tone but I’m nit-picking really.
The next song “Ghost Ranch” is a real nice cacophony of guitar work which switches beautifully between tremolo picked passages and full-on chugging parts, and at times during this song you forget there is only one guitar player, he seems a very talented chap. Mind you, saying that each member of the band does take his time in the spotlight to showcase its talent and when it hits, it’s rather good.
The final song “Cotopaxi” is an 18-minute behemoth. It runs the full gamut of styles touched in the previous songs and gives them plenty of time to breath. The serene guitar playing at the beginning is particularly lovely and lulls you into a false sense of calm before giving way to a marvellous chugging part which has me nodding my head every time I hear it. The looping is used quite extensively on this song and works very well. It also has well-placed samples and sonic manipulation which fits in seamlessly with the rest of the song, it’s a definite highlight for me on the whole album.
Sure, these guys are not going to win any awards for originality but sometimes you don’t want that, you want to listen to something you know is going to be good, and this album certainly fits that bill. For my taste, the guitar tone sometimes doesn’t quite hit the spot but like I said earlier, that’s me just nit-picking. All in all, this is a complex, bold, and solid debut and it gives a great taste of what the band can do, and to release their first recording as a live album is to be applauded. Give these guys a listen, you may be very glad you did. Recommended.