From the very first syncopated guitar lines to the slow unfurling of the melody, you can tell something special is happening with Spain’s ṘO. The sophomore offering, Baiagoan jumps straight away into their strengths. A steady emotional urgency underpins solid, moving grooves, a technically excellent rhythm section and leads with confidence and a certain experimental flair, vis-a-vis some of the tonal choices, as well as a now classic, sort of Ozzy-era locomotive force deftly applied to a plethora of hooks, grooves, and a touch of intrepid wizardry, which are all executed as if blindfolded. We’ve been beguiled since 2020’s Athalase.
ṘO have such a kick-ass, encompassing approach to the Post-Rock genre (or vise-versa) that you almost want to pull the Post-Rock elements out for a moment and refocus on the keen inspiration drawn from their world influences and regional roots. They just have so much going on. It almost seems wasteful to lump the band in with the Post-Rock crowd but they certainly pull it off like pros. On ”Labasi,” for instance you have some breaks into EITS territory that is simply gripping and beautiful. And At other times, on say ”Laaki”, deuling leads form a compelling pastiche of emotional dissonance. At other times still, the band touches on Alt-Rock and Post-Metal moments. A range of wordless emotion swirls in the aether as every gorgeous movement balloons into a heavy, heated crescendo.
More anthemic guitar parts follow on ”Kutsutu”; you are entranced by the haunting Porcupine Tree-esque overture on ”Hapaka”. So many moments that seem perfect for a drive-time-playlist. Swells of well-curated emotion further delineate the peaks and valleys of a mood, thematically, the range of which keeps the entire affair interesting, keeps your hands in the ride at all times. The album is so proficient in conveying its intent that you get the impression that really the band could be doing anything – they have the chops – but they’ve applied it to specifically such a dynamic pallate, which we can all enjoy.
Further wistful mystery and punctuated chaos follows throughout the album in a way that suits a sad drive down the shore, when you need a think in the presence of the wider world and tap into the collective unconscious through nature. Or something like that. That similar aesthetic as you hear on Sigur Rós records – a dream world where your real troubles are a wash of light and sound and lack the nervous bite, able to be regarded from afar.
The album is not devoid of the driving pressure of those moments, however, keeping up the pace, keeping things moving reasonably well, and at some point a hypnotic two-note loop leads into a heavy section and you’re off again to rockville!
In short, they really do have a way of keeping things interesting, shifting tones and techniques. Contemporary influences are at the forefront on this one, while also dialing up the joyful complexity, the artistry. Begninning to have a trance-like Kraut-Rock approach in almost every movement’s development toward cinematic crescendoes. The guitar is a chameleon that avails itself of all the jungle tricks, never shying form either finger-tapping or distortion-heavy chords. And here ṘO have a remarkable ability to spontaneously alight on hooks that hit like instant clasics. Baiagoan is a must-have in the collection, and a brilliant start to the year.