We’ve spoken about Atsuko Chiba in the past. First, we told you to listen to them. Then, we premiered a track off of their EP “Figure and Ground”. Now, that EP is finally out and I’m here to urge you, once again, to check these guys out. Why? The reasons are many but one seems to shine brighter or perhaps first, whenever I put my hands to the keyboard in order to write about them. The simple fact is that Atusko Chiba are broadening the array of possibilities for post rock. While I won’t be as arrogant as to claim that they are singular, for that would imply a complete knowledge of the scene, I will say that they’re one of the most unique, moving and pleasing bands currently in operation. Their formula is simple and yet, elusive: first they take elements common in post rock, like an emphasis on open, “bright”, riffs. Second, they splice these with a dominant groove section, giving the bass a prominent position. Lastly, they infuse these basic building blocks with influences from Pink Floyd, hardcore, punk, and more.
Just listen to the middle track “Infrared”. It begins with an ambient passage like something from Ulver and Sunn O)))‘s Terrestrials. Things are happening but they are within the static, in the faint stirrings of the background. Then, the achingly beautiful guitars remind us of the heyday of Pink Floyd, where every touch of the strings was aimed directly at your heart. So it is here, as well, with the guitar taking its time to work its way into the rich background of the opening passages with a prolonged and beautiful voice. Then, the bass and drums take over, molding what came before into the regular repetition of rhythm and interaction. The original noises are still there, operating underneath them, slowly building into the classically delayed, post rock lead that will shape the track to come.
Spending its time with carefully picked passages, the guitar is finally infused with a quirky little line before our final influence kicks in. The vocals are far from what you’d expected, fitting more into a hardcore/pop-punk setting. Their introduction near the end of the track (and the return to them in ‘Tidings’, the groovy last track) inject some sort of alien heat into the proceedings, suddenly making things urgent, lustful, immediate. Almost necessary. This is perhaps what Atsuko Chiba are best at. They don’t waste anything; all leads, synths, vocals, drums, bass lines and the rest are utilized to maximum effect within the context of the track and the album. Nothing is just what it is; everything feeds into the rest while still maintaining its unique voice. This is what sets them above the crop and why we’ll keep returning to them. They take the post rock basis and elevate it without giving into cliche, without forcing influences for experimentation’s sake. They have their own sound and ideas about music and they’re here to give them life.