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Concentric: V

Few instrumental albums are as ambitious as Concentric's sophomore LP, V (not to be confused with the Spock's Beard and Symphony X albums, haha). A five-movement suite that serves as an "interpretation of the Five Stages of Grief, as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross," the album is wonderfully chaotic, melodic, and melancholic throughout. Although, like many albums of the same ilk, it can become a bit tiresome after a while, the sheer brilliance of the compositions and performance allows V to shine overall.

Currently, Concentric is a Milwaukee duo consisting of Jerry Hauppa (guitar/hammer) and James Becker (guitar/cello/bass). However, on V, Brad O'Malley served as the drummer. Whereas their debut LP, Immeasurable, was focused more on acoustic arrangements, V "displays Concentric pulling from multiple facets of the sonic spectrum to give each movement its own identity." Indeed, while acoustic instruments (guitar, strings, percussion) are present, there is a definitely more darkness and complexity than you might expect. In the end, the album is a refreshing and moving slice of (as they call it) avant-grade progressive acoustic post-rock.

Opener "Denial" begins with ominous strings before incorporating some crunchy guitar riffs and intricate rhythmic changes. In a way, the track (and really, the entire album) is reminiscent of Opeth's earliest instrumental passages, which is great. Actually, the way Hauppa and Becker essentially craft arpeggiated jigsaw puzzles over intricate syncopation and dynamics is fascinating for the most part (considering its duration, the track does outstay its welcome a bit by the end). Clearly, these are two masterful musicians and arrangers, as this introduction is a great blend of styles.

As for the other four movements—"Anger," "Bargaining," "Depression," and "Acceptance"—they more or less follow the same pattern (which undermines the group's intention of crafting five distinct tracks). "Anger" is, well, angrier; it's heavier, faster, and much fiercer, while "Bargaining" stands out because of its shifting moods and prophetic momentum. There is also a wonderful balance between the strings and guitars, which often results in countermelodies and fresh changes in direction. Naturally, "Depression" is the most sorrowful offering; it's highlighted by clashing percussion and mournful strings. Finally, "Acceptance" brings a feeling of closure and optimism, as if the dust has settled and life can continue. The duo's acoustic guitar work steals the show (much as it did on the first track), which means that "Acceptance" and "Denial" are the most musically connected (and thus, V feels like it comes full circle by the end). Also, the way the tracks segue into each other is very effective in terms of creating a consistent vibe for the listener.

V is a masterful record (although it feels a bit too similar throughout for its own good). Like all great instrumental bands, the trio clearly has great chemistry and a shared vision (which they execute expertly). It's not a groundbreaking record, but it is fresh and involving enough to warrant your intention. Their compositions are extremely emotional and technical, which means that both your mind and heart will find something to explore.


Track Listing
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Added: December 4th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Score:
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1445
Language: english

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