Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sloth & Turtle - Sloth & Turtle (2018)

Sloth and Turtle came to my attention via the math rock reddit page in video form. From the moment I heard the opening riff of title track “Toys” I was hooked.  To say this has been on constant rotation would be a vast understatement but there are a lot of pieces to this group that deserves individual attention in what makes this post-rock loving math rock group work so well, let’s take a look.  

Post rock has always been a great place to draw influence in the math rock realm. Plain and simple, it lives and dies by the calculated structure of its song craft and lends itself well to often wordless math rock groups, enter Sloth and Turtle. That very statement exemplifies why these songs work so well. These pieces move in a way that feels…organic. Motifs as well as chord progressions are revisited in different ways throughout the duration of a song. This is huge in cementing a feeling of identity in each track easily avoiding the dred post-rock “build up-crescendo-conclusion” bore fest. Each section flows from one to the other without sounding forced in anyway and that is the mark of a group that truly values and spends time on song craft.

To speak to the angular elements, rest assured they are tastefully implemented. There’s an awful lot of tapping in these songs and that’s primarily due to the play style of guitarist Nico Molinari. It’s a true testament to his playing that it always comes of melodically interesting and usually very memorable in their rhythm, though Nico’s guitar licks wouldn’t be half as vital if they weren’t being supported by second guitar Jaime Alan Wosk. Jaime’s play style provides at times a suitably atmospheric blanket for Nico’s tapping (like on the previously mentioned “Toys”). To their credit they each mix up riffs, post-rock twinkles and dueling tap-stravaganza’s (as on the bridge of “Telemachus”).

None of these guitar heroics would be hitting home however if not for the rhythm section on deck here of Brian Kincaid and Linden Reed on bass and drums respectively. Kincaid as his lead guitar counter parts uses a few different styles when approaching his bass work. Chunky drones are as common as more complex tapping by Brian’s nimble work. As for Linden’s drumming, a personal soft spot being a fellow drummer it always warms my heart to see some restrained and precise playing. Fills are just technical enough but Reed’s main lick’s are the star here. Fantastic hi-hat work is something few really hone in on but its plainly obvious in his kit work. Low-tom beats mixed with a solid amount of snare to rim shot variations…drool.

Speaking as a whole there are many moments of technical excellence here in this album to satiate the most fervent of math rock fans but also just as many beautifully melodic moments to appeal to any fan of instrumental rock in general.  Are these guys pushing the very boundaries of these oft played genres? No. But let’s be honest, when it’s done to this level does it really matter? I challenge anyone to name drop a band in this space doing this any better or even just as good. For my money Sloth and Turtle are a group that should be not only listened to with apt attention but a band to watch for future releases. This is not something to miss out on..period.  

(also..side note.. that production? Holy fuck its insanely gorgeous. Just listen to that snare snap..sweet mother)

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