As a music reviewer, it’s difficult to know when our proclamations will be proven right or wrong. The nature of the modern music makes a multi-album year and a new album every several years both seem perfectly normal (if not always ideal). This being the case, we can never be sure how our bold claims about a band’s trajectory will pan out, or when the verdict will be passed down. For all we know, a band could release a dud just months after we raved about their future legendary status. For a number of reasons, I’m thankful Ground Patrol proved me right with my review of their phenomenal release DRIFT from last year. I confidently wrote that “Time won’t need to tell if Ground Patrol will become one of the essential acts in the math rock’s pantheon; their name’s already been etched in stone.” A little less than a year later, I’m thrilled to not only report that I was right, but also to be able to share the proof with all of you. We’re hosting a full stream of SEARCH, the duo’s latest four-track collection of dense, intricate instrumental rock that will surely leave those enamored with experimental rock clamoring for more as soon as the last track concludes.
Before venturing much further, let’s acknowledge the musical firepower behind Ground Patrol. The Australia/New York duo have mastered some truly awing improvisational interplay. This is due in no small part to the accomplished and eclectic resumes both members bring to the table—NY-based guitarist Kyle Sanna has performed alongside prestigious artists like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, multi-instrumentalist and composer Edgar Meyer and bluegrass mandolinist Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers), while percussionist Alon Ilsar has made a name for himself within the Australian experimental music scene, including forays into experimental pop with Gauche, avant-garde metal with Darth Vegas and nu-jazz with The Sticks.
The players’ expansive musical knowledge and talents are once again on full display on SEARCH. A noticeably new characteristic of the band’s sound is heightened influences from psychedelic rock and krautrock, the latter of which not being all that surprising considering their penchant for measured compositional progressions. This is immediately on display with “SEARCH,” with pounding percussion propping up note progressions with some strong jazzy and bluesy elements. It’s more so on the experimental side of 70s rock, but as soon as “SETTLE” pops in, the bluesy, psych rock goodness jumps into full swing. The opening lick is pure sultry swagger, emboldened by a resonant tone characteristic of performative-forward math rock.
Of course, as with every Ground Patrol track, the proceedings hardly progress as the listener would expect, and the entirety of the nearly 17-minute jam is nothing short of musical bliss. Ilsar and Sanna trade improvisational flourishes of soft, careful notes and bombastic bursts of notes and percussive crashes. The amount of bold, incredible ideas that are somehow tied into a cohesive, logical composition is truly extraordinary. But that’s what happens when you have two phenomenal musicians manning their respective instruments; they’re both in lockstep harmony (and dissonance, where called for) throughout every moment on the album, while also leaving plenty of room for their own creative voices to shine.
I could tell you that “SQUEAK” is a much brighter, all-consuming array of melodic math rock sensibilities, or that “RUN” has perhaps the loudest, brashest crescendo the band’s unleashed to date. But that would be time spent attracting your attention to my ramblings and away from the main task at hand, being a chance to listen to yet another math rock triumph from one of the most exciting acts in the genre. As I said earlier, I couldn’t be happier to have my claims about the band’s talents affirmed so shortly after I made them, and more importantly, I’m ecstatic we’re able to provide Ground Patrol with the exposure they rightfully deserve. Do yourself a favor and listen to another shining example of why the duo are destined for the experimental rock hall of fame. You won’t regret being a leg up on average listeners when they finally discover their new favorite math rock band.