The concept of ‘post-rock’, utilising guitars to create texture and timbre, is nothing new and over the years it has fallen out of favour with the fickle music press following a proliferation of post-rock-styled bands in the early 00’s. Indeed, following the rise to prominence of such acts as Mogwai (although they would no doubt decry any article linking them to a genre they have publically distanced themselves from), God Speed You Black Emperor, Sigur Ros and the like, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there is little left to say in the world of post rock, and yet, every once in a while, bands like Volte Face and Corbeaux appear to shatter your narrow sighted misconceptions with a split EP that expands upon the horizons of that which has gone before.
Volte Face and Corbeaux are both, ostensibly, post rock bands who have teamed up on this brief, engaging record. ‘The meeting point’, some twenty-five minutes in length and utterly shorn of vocals, provides the listener with four tracks from the bands (two each) plus a fifth track which is a collaboration. The bands work well together, their music similar enough to provide consistency for the listener (especially as the tracks are intermingled rather than evenly split into two halves), although on balance Volte Face offer a more progressive feel with a greater amount of guitar than Corbeaux. Here you’ll find elements of Pink Floyd and David Gilmour, Talk Talk and Aphex Twin all jostling for space on a record that neatly combines post rock with elements of progressive, ambient and indie, for an experience that is intense, emotional and fascinating. First track ‘Airpaint’ sees Corbeaux opting for a business as usual post rock sound, as the band layer a lone piano with echoing effects, a trick Mogwai used to good effect on their debut. As a somnambulant beat drives the sleepy tune forward, something unexpected happens as the band become increasingly agitated, their music slithering ever faster towards a churning maelstrom of chugging guitar and crashing cymbal. It’s still the quiet-loud-LOUD formula of Mogwai but ramped up with metallic muscle rarely seen in the days since ‘my father the king’, with the result that the music packs a hefty punch as well as a cerebral challenge. Volte Face’s first effort, meanwhile, stands in firm contrast, opening up like an Orbital track from the days when the Hartnoll brothers used to soundtrack Wipeout, before heading in a decidedly more rock direction via some trippy ambient effects and an over-driven bass line. Having reasserted rock as the key force on display, an echoing guitar reminiscent of David Gilmour’s work on latter day Floyd dominates the track and the traditional heart of Volte Face is laid bare even amidst all the echoing electronics augmenting the track,
Next, Corbeaux return for ’28 Jours plus tard’, a rippling and rather beautiful work shot through with warm melodies that turns oddly arachnid when the band shear away everything but percussion and a simple guitar line. It says much of the band’s abilities that they can make so significant a dynamic shift without sounding awkward or weak as a result, and the tune is strangely affecting as the layers build back up. Volte Face then offer up ‘in another life’ which doesn’t so much begin as swell into existence in a similar vein to Pink Floyd’s ‘take it back’ before blazing into life under the weight of some huge power chords. However, the track remains predictably unpredictable and just as you get used to the blazing power of guitars amped to eleven the band pull the rug out from under your feet and head off into echoing ambient territory that sits somewhere between Toro Y moi and Mogwai before fading out into the distance. The final track sees the two bands come together for the title track and, as well as being the longest track here, it is also the most interesting as the bands riff off of each other’s ideas and influences, the result being a surprisingly upbeat piece that shimmers with colour and detail, the guitars echoing around one another as a solid, fast-paced drum track keeps the vibe loose and fresh. It’s an intriguing way to end a split EP and a fascinating bonus for fans of both bands.
Split EPs are something of a dying art these days. Once a popular method for bands to cheaply promote their wares by sharing the costs of production, these days cheaper CD replication (along with online options) have made the split EP something of an anachronism. This is a shame as frequently it is fans who benefit as they not only get new tracks from a band with whom they are already familiar, but they also get to experience something new, often for a nominal price tag. In the case of the ‘the meeting point’ both Corbeaux and Volte Face offer up beautifully complimentary visions of post rock, and whilst this is unlikely to convert those who have thus far remained unconvinced by instrumental rock, for those seeking something a little different, there is much to recommend this short, sweet EP. Packaged with attractive artwork, and really rather beautiful, ‘the meeting point’ is a rare gem that is worth discovering.
Find out more about Corbeaux here.
Find out more about Volte Face here.
Watch the video for ‘the meeting point’ here: