EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Spruce Trap/Goodbye, Kings – “Targa Florio 1906” split EP

Editor’s note: this is our second guest post from David Zeidler. Head on over to the first one for more info about that as well as more great post rock!

We are excited to have the opportunity today to premiere a split EP by two of the most dramatically underrated post-rock bands currently active, working a world apart but sharing an equal dedication to building breathtaking sonic landscapes that tell stories built on myths and legends as much as they are on loss and love.

The EP begins with Vancouver, Canada’s Spruce Trap. Formed in 2012, the trio have only released one EP and one full-length, totaling 7 songs. Despite this relatively brief oeuvre, the band has garnered a very strong reputation in the Pacific Northwest as purveyors of expansive, deeply emotional compositions that greatly reward the patient listener. With songs like “Preparing to Leave All Of This; Preparing To Leave,” from their 2016 LP The Wise Prefer To Perish, they were positioned as a band truly coming to understand their powers. A YouTube video featuring the band performing the song “Justice For Her” at Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral made the rounds earlier this year and opened plenty of eyes to Spruce Trap’s extraordinary abilities. They certainly seemed poised for great things to come.

But sometimes life has other plans. Drummer Kai Furugori is moving to the East coast for an extended period of time and as such the band is entering a period of extended hiatus. However, this is not without some exciting final arrangements. On Saturday, December 9th they are playing one final, massive show in Vancouver – two sets, the first being their full discography to date, the second comprised entirely of unreleased material.

In keeping with the trajectory of their compositional style over the past five years, Spruce Trap’s contribution, “Two Hogs, Grounded,” takes its time to unfold, clocking in at just under 17 minutes. Beginning with the sounds of running water and a single foreboding, droning note which leads into a slow and disquieting guitar progression, listeners initially may expect to be led on a journey through darkness. However, “Two Hogs, Grounded” proves to be a rich and varied track. By the 4:30 mark Furugori’s drums pick up the pace and the tone lightens as the composition opens a bit, giving the band the opportunity to play it looser than in earlier, tenser moments. This leads nicely into the final third, which stands firmly as some of the finest post-rock you’ll run across this year. Spruce Trap most certainly has a flair for the dramatic, and where this moment could have been one of sadness for the band, they have turned it into something that is bittersweet, poignant and ultimately triumphant.

Goodbye, Kings follow Spruce Trap with the title track “Targa Florio, 1906.” The Milanese sextet is virtually unknown in the States, which is unfortunate considering their powerful ability to evoke strong imagery and deep emotions with their brand of cinematic post-rock. They followed their 2013 Memoire EP and 2014 debut LP Au Cabaret Vert with last year’s criminally-underrated Vento. Perusing their Bandcamp page, inspiration for their work is attributed to everything from the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, to Japanese poet Masaoka Shiki, to myths about the wind. Their artist description is an “instrumental soundtrack for a never-made European retro movie.” So, as you may imagine, this is dense material, but richly rewarding for patient, thoughtful listeners.

“Targa Florio, 1906” is the shorter of the two tracks, coming in at a fleeting fifteen minutes. It sets up an initial calm, with soft synth tones driving the melody. As it progresses though, the rest of the arrangement begins to swell in volume, bringing an uneasy dissonance into the mix. As they have shown in previous works, Goodbye, Kings are capable of shifting on a dime, and at the six-and-a-half minute mark “Targa Florio, 1906” makes an intriguing transition into something more akin to prog-metal. The groove builds tirelessly as the instrumentation eventually climbs into space-rock territories, with layered guitar noises washing back and forth from speaker to speaker. It all eventually collapses into a trippy black hole of its own design, providing an appropriate outro for a two-song EP that tops 30 minutes in running time. If these tracks are your introduction to both Spruce Trap and Goodbye, Kings, it is highly recommended that you work through their back catalogs as they feature some of the highest-quality under-recognized work in contemporary post-rock.

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