Gregor Samsa - Rest
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Gregor Samsa

Already forced to change their writing approach due to geography, Gregor Samsa also decided to change their instrumentation a bit for their newest release Rest. Composing songs over email, the group almost entirely replaced guitar with piano and introduced new instruments like celesta, clarinet, and vibraphone into the mix. The result is a somewhat muted release that straddles fits the title quite well and straddles the line between graceful post rock and modern classical.

They're certainly not the only ones to trade in guitar for piano (the short-lived Potomac Accord put out a couple albums doing just that), but with additional male/female vocals, Gregor Samsa moves into dream-time sonics that are occasionally stunning. "The Adolescent" kicks things off slowly, letting all the soft elements slowly swirl together before a quiet peak hits about halfway through and finally drifts off into a quiet coda. "Abutting, Dismantling" is much more successful, ratcheting up a palatable tension with a persistent piano dirge and some splits of dissonance that only makes the slow march up the mountain pay off even more.

Another gem is the beautiful "Jeroen Van Aken," which clocks in at over eight minutes and features some almost sing-along vocals during a slow, waltzing first section before slowly unweaving and pulling back together ever-so-slightly for the remainder. In places, the group really lets things un-spool as the light creeps in, and the results are somewhat hit-or-miss. "Pseudonyms" drops to near-silence between curls of clarinet and rolls of piano, but can't quite sustain itself melodically for over six minutes, while "First Mile, Last Mile" fuzzes out a rocking guitar along with some backwards vocals and other random effects and simply doesn't match the more subtle work on the release (although it does provide a slightly-louder payoff moment for those looking for one). Drifting somewhere between Efterklang and Sigur Ros, Gregor Samsa have turned down the volume for this album, but actually crafted a better work than their previous 55:12. Lovely stuff.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2008-05-29 19:07:40