The Bostonian trio known as Perhaps is definitely one of the more interesting new acts I've had the pleasure of listening to recently. Released in September of 2012, Volume One was recorded in a live setting - quite a massive undertaking considering the complexity of the material in question, and also an interesting choice for a debut album. You just don't hear rock bands record 'regular' albums in a live setting too frequently, and, possibly even more infrequently these days, recorded using actual analog tape. At this point, we're only scratching the surface of what makes Perhaps such a unique ensemble, but their music is definitely something that should be experienced by fans of complex and jam-oriented experimental rock music.
Stylistically, we're dealing with music that fits comfortably within the math-rock category. Not to be confused with post-rock, Perhaps' sound is fast-paced, complex, and often times very experimental. Volume One has a very jam-oriented feeling about it, as the energetic drumming and frantic fretwork is likely to keep the listener on their toes for the album's entire duration. Consisting of only one track that nears forty minutes in length, Volume One will certainly require all of your attention, but this attention is well-rewarded after many listens. The superb displays of musicianship, including some nice saxophone soloing from Tom Weeks, a great display of trumpet finesse from Bryan Murphy, and well-executed use of an orchestra at the end of the piece, makes Volume One an incredibly enjoyable listen, even it's not one that sticks with me for very long. The sections can be disjointed at times, and a good portion of the album feels more like a vehicle for technical acrobatics than anything incredibly memorable - which, as mentioned earlier, makes for an undoubtedly fun listen, but not something that sticks with me for too long after the observation is over. With the exception of the final five minutes of the piece, Volume One feels a bit too jam-oriented to make a huge impact on this listener. The production is also rather muddy and unpolished, which is probably to be expected from a release recorded in a live setting, but I think it lacks the power necessary to make Perhaps' music really shine.
That being said, more devout fans of the math rock genre might get more long term enjoyment from Volume One than I do - the instrumental talents of Jim Haney, Sean McDermott, and Don Taylor are unquestionable, and there are certainly plenty of interesting things going on here. Though I'd like to see the band focus a bit more on their psychedelic and post rock side next time around, which is where I think they shine the brightest, Volume One is still a very solid debut from start to finish. It's also worth noting that Perhaps has generously offered the album for free download from their BandCamp page, so there's really no excuse for not giving it a listen - while Volume One may not be a masterpiece in this reviewer's eyes, Perhaps is a band with a hell of a lot of potential and their debut is not one to miss!
1. Volume One (37:48)