You’d be forgiven if you thought that 5th Projekt was from New Orleans instead of Toronto: two of the hardest-rocking tunes on their new album V are “Hurricane” and “Juggernaut,” where huge-voiced Tara Rice is quite concerned about levees breaking. And when I say hard-rocking, I mean it; 5th Projekt’s music spans the distance from minimalist trip-hop to thrashy metal sections (of which “Juggernaut” has the most suprisingly convoluted). They live off the juxtapositions: the rock which falls between the two extremes thrives off lithe rhythms backed by crushing guitars, as in “Walk Away (Exodus)” and “Psych 66.”
The larger contrasts come from really quiet songs like the delicate “Aria” and the ragers like closer “This Is Not Love,” the latter of which starts off similarly to the former before turning into a roar. The band really shows their instrumental and songwriting chops on V, creating an impressive album that fans of artsy rock (i.e. Radiohead, not Rush) will love. Check out their site for a free sampler of three tunes from the album.
Catscans‘ 15-minute, 3-song self-titled EP bridges the gap between technical prog rock and emotive post-rock. They do this by literally laying traditional elements of the genres on top of each other. In “Choeung Ek Memorial (Killing Fields),” prog’s bleating synth bass and wiry guitar lines are paired up with non-linguistic vocal melodies and violin contributions of post-rock; later, they crush the whole song with a filthy guitar distortion, then bring back the violin on top of it.
You can see their ethos in their album art: organic growing out electronic is an apt description, as both “Lost and Found” and “Untergang” build off the basic template established by “Choeung Ek.” The band has established its ideas well, sounding totally comfortable in their own skin. Fans of post-rock or prog-rock, apply within.
Band: 5th Projekt
Best Element: Strong songwriting
Here at Independent Clauses, we do our best to review every release that comes in our door, and I’d say we do a good job. But sometimes stuff gets lost in the mail on the way to us, CDs get lost on the way out to reviewers, some reviewers quit with our music in tow, files get corrupted, links don’t work, and on and on. We don’t like it when it happens, but sometimes it does.
5th Projekt’s Circadian and its predecessor EP The Tales of Don Quixote are a prime example of the triumph of the forces that be over our desire to review something- because every single last problem that I mentioned in the previous list has happened to 5th Projekt’s music while in our care. It’s patently awful.
But they were insistent on sending us a hard copy version of their release Circadian. Upon receiving the disc, I saw why.
I’ve never been more impressed with an independent CD’s art and packaging- not just because the packaging is unique and beautiful, but because it actually complements the music. The CD comes in a metal case, which underscores the sleek, slick feel the songs have. The art on the cover is ambigram of the title Circadian, which means that you can read the title from two directions- either ‘right side up’, or ‘upside down’, although those really don’t mean much when you have a circular CD case (as they do).
That’s just the outside of the art. I could go into greater detail on the booklet, but you want to know about music.
Circadian’s music lives up to its art in spades. With earlier releases we noted the coldness of the tunes that came from bad use of excess space between the parts. On Circadian, the use of separation in their artsy space-rock/indie rock has been corrected- instead of a detriment, the amount of space is now a positive aspect that sets them apart from the rest of forlorn indie-rockers out there. Tunes such as “Distraktid” are amazing because of their complete control over the mood of a room, despite having barely any interlocking or overlapping parts.
But 5th Projekt isn’t all reverbed guitars and humming bass space-rock- they draw upon significant other influences to create wholly unique band. Tara Rice’s sultry vocals would be right at home in a singer/songwriter showcase at a piano bar, but she leads her ample, mysterious tone to art-rock instead. The drums throughout portray a very interesting tribal motif. Crashing guitars appear in “Spiders”, 60’s folk vibes invade the guitars of “Skepticosm”, and the beginning of “One to Throw Away” has profound influences from epic movie soundtracks.
All these influences combine to make 5th Projekt’s unique sound- a simple yet profoundly moving sound that is fluid, epic, haunting and memorable. If Portishead cleaned up their act a bit, they might sound like 5th Projekt….maybe. But 5th Projekt is truly in a class of their own, fusing genres on top of genres to make a sound that is easily listenable but instantly recognizable. Circadian is an extremely exciting offering on all fronts.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.