We don't get too many bands from Switzerland on this site, so it was a surprise to receive this CD from Geneva-based trio Commodor. It was even more of a surprise listening to the opening of the very short first track - punk - unadulterated punk all the way from 1976. It's a genre that I quite enjoy occasionally but I was surprised to hear it being sent to a website such as Sea of Tranquility. Of course, it is always wrong to make swift judgements based on first impressions, as in this case: Commodor are very much more than a "punk" band (or is it now called "noise rock"?).
Commodor are Adriano Perlini (guitar, vocals), Tim Robert-Charrue (bass, keyboards) and Christopher Henchoz (drums). Tim also plays guitar in a band called Knut.
Driving out of focus takes us on a journey from the pure punk of "Liquid Five", virtually step by step through the increasing complexity of its eight tracks towards territory that might be described as "progressive punk" or "post-punk". It's an interesting journey which is often very energetic and pacey, the intensity relaxing only towards the end of the trip as the complexity of the music increases slightly.
The indication that you are not listening to pure punk comes as early as the second track, "Panavision". Keyboards, used briefly towards the end of "liquid Fire", return but, more significantly, long instrumental sections indicate that there's something more subtle here than just pure energy. ""Don Starksy" and "Goats on the Cliff" continue the theme, the instrumental sections developing different textures and rhythmic patterns: the effect is very different to how a "normal" progressive rock band might create complexity but the variations and subtlety is there nevertheless, just in a form of music that is much more raw and aggressive, perhaps even more so than most of the metal genres. By the end of "Goats on the Cliff" we are getting some hints of melody and conventional singing (as opposed to shouting).
"Drifting Figures" continues this trend and by the beginning of "Dune" we get some melodic guitar phrasing for the first time during the intro. "Dune"'s pace is lower, the band presumably feeling that with the increased complexity there is not such a pressing need for the same pace and energy that was a feature of the early tracks. "Dune"'s pace does increase during its second half but without losing the melodic feature of the music - it's a strong combination of forces.
"Tolt", for me, seemed a little out of place in that it reverts back to a purer form of punk, but perhaps this is the band just having a quick grasp of their comfort blanket before launching into the most complex piece of the album, the closing "Everlasting Swamps of Sorrow". This final, powerful number, an instrumental, opens to very pretty electric guitar strumming before increasing in intensity and roughness.
It's an interesting journey that the band take us on: the music is often energetic and raw, at others complex in textures and rich in melody. Had there been more of the latter two features, it would have been an even better album.
1) Liquid Five (1:57)
2) Panavision (5:27)
3) Don Starksy (5:53)
4) Goats on the Cliff (4:28)
5) Drifting Figures (4:30)
6) Dune (5:58)
7) Tolt (3:53)
8) Everlasting Swamps of Sorrow (7:52)