Gregor Samsa - 55:12
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Gregor Samsa

Call me naive, but there was a time where I really thought that post rock was really going to be the genre that saved me. It no doubt did for some time, and I was introduced to some artists and albums that I still love hearing today, but I hate to say that like other genres that have come and gone, it seems that post rock has now seemed to reached an expiration date in my head.

It's not really the direct fault of anyone, just the cumulative amount of releases that I've heard that have failed to move me. Although the genre itself is about as loosey goosey as it gets in terms of what it entails, I could probably point to Do Make Say Think's Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn as the last release that really thrilled me. As you can probably guess by now, Gregor Samsa is a group that I would venture to say falls into that category, and while it certainly has some gorgeous moments, 55:12 is another album in a long line of post rock discs that in part leaves me shrugging my shoulders.

The pedigree of this quartet is high, having played shows with everyone from Interpol to Pelican to Explosions In The Sky. They even recorded a 12" with Red Sparrowes that sold out in less than a week last year. 55:12 comes packaged in a lovely embossed cardboard package, and it fits nicely with the drawn-out, slowly evolving pieces that he group creates. Mixing atmospheric instrumentation filled with brushed drums, reverbed guitars, strings, and piano with male/female vocals, the group comes across like a subdued version of Mogwai with an almost narcotic shoegazey feel.

On the disc, eight tracks run over fifty minutes in length and tracks build slowly and release in very subtle ways. Opener "Makeshift Shelters" swirls field recordings, hushed vocals, and shimmering guitars together into a soft prologue. "Even Numbers" follows, and slowly drifts in the wind for over ten minutes before finally concluding with a slightly fiery ending of violin, crashing drums, and slightly distorted guitars.

In a bit of a play on words, the song "Loud And Clear" may very well be the quietest song on the entire album, mixing some heavily-reverbed guitar with soft bells and faltering electric piano. About two-thirds of the way through the album, the group stops with all the pussyfooting and finally gets a bit overpowering with the excellent "Young And Old," which starts on a soft note and powers through a conclusion that calls to mind Godspeed You Black Emperor. As a whole, there's just a bit too much meandering on 55:12 to fully engage me, but those looking for a post rock fix may find it hits in the right places.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2006-03-16 21:41:24