Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kogumaza - Kogumaza


Low Point Records.

SCQ Rating: 70%

The first thing to strike me about Kogumaza’s self-titled record is how much it resembles Mogwai at their cagey, metal-loving best. By adorning their guitars with a serviceable distortion and forbidding many of the frills that typically have license on instrumental, vaguely psychedelic releases, this Nottingham quartet takes their love of metal bands beyond the homage that post-rock bands like Mogwai often relegate to quick bridges.

That passion is readily communicated over Kogumaza’s two twenty-plus-minute pieces, each collecting four distinct but inseparable movements. The first slab of metal collects itself on the promise of a subtly tribal beat and bloodthirsty riff (‘Cosmonaut’) before sedating into a groove over ‘Lowland Hundred’, ‘Bells’ and the near-ambient rumble of ‘Tensor Tympani’. The second longform collage of tracks assumes a similar trajectory: commanding, riff-oriented top end (‘Swang’) followed by a yearning core that explores melodic possibilities as opposed to a sustained shock-and-awe. Despite the electric bombast that opens these tracks, the heart of Kogumaza pumps on a desire to infiltrate the likes of classic-rock and prog-rock. And over the course of these seemingly sludgy compositions, Kogumaza shape-shifts between traditional Black Sabbath chugging and a progressive approach leaning closer to a working-class version of Explosions In the Sky, all the while avoiding the former band’s intensity and the latter band’s vulnerability.

Make no mistake: these are massive jams, chocked full of feedback and momentum, but what makes Kogumaza so difficult to classify boils down to its lack of testosterone. With a seamless flow and progressive template begging for crossover relevance, the record defiantly spirals its raw metal urges between contemplative and quixotic aural landscapes, thereby allowing the record to sit in the background and merely exist. Sometimes these moments in stasis re-freshen their sound, other times they risk growing stale; luckily for us, the self-titled affair finds the band rarely settling on an idea for long.

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