Monday 31 December 2012

Neko Nine - Summer Is You

Album review by

The city of Yaroslavl in Russia (160 miles north-east of Moscow) is most likely enjoying sub-zero temperatures and few hours of sunlight right now, two factors that make it the perfect location to stay inside with some instruments, a few ideas and just see what happens, see where the music takes you. At least that's the sense you get from listening to 'Summer Is You', the debut album from Neko Nine. After playing in punk and alt-rock bands, Seva Shaposhnikov decided he wanted to broaden his horizons, and so over the next few years his experimenting and collaborating led to this album, and it really does feel like a voyage of discovery.

Everything here is instrumental and unusually for post-rock, no song is allowed to get past four-and-a-half minutes in length. There are points when the ferocity and density of these tracks borders on metal ('Supernova' and 'Colors Of Universe' are two good examples) but remain more interesting thanks to the lightness of the other instrumentation that underpins the gnarly guitar. It's only really on 'Nevernevernever' that we stray into post-metal territory and even then it's only brief. 'Summer Is You' works best when it tries to be breathtaking rather than brutal. The juxtaposition of stargazing and dead-weight grunt is an unusual one, but when they open things up and allow the music to become freer it makes more sense.

Strings are draped over 'Let Me Explode' and nicely offset the stabbing riff, then when the electronic beats join it it encapsulates the album into one song. Delicate piano leads us into the sweeping 'Shining', perhaps the best song here, and devoid of the weight of those grinding guitars around its neck its allowed to soar. 'My Stars So Cold' is another example of how the spaciousness can add to a song, proving that sometimes it is a case of less is more, and when it does burst into flames of noise towards the end it sounds stately as opposed to sluggish. With repeat plays 'Summer Is You' becomes an album you can get lost in, although the heavier points could happily have been left off. Plus there is something magical about towering instrumentals this time of year.

Neko Nine's website

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