While 2018 was truly fantastic for post-rock (expect a more in-depth post about that, soon) there was one specific type of sound that I was missing. This absent sound can be categorized by comparison to sleepmakeswaves, a kind of electronic, hyper-energetic take on post-rock that focuses on heavy hitting guitars, thick tones, and explosive structures. Admittedly, it’s a hard sound to nail down, requiring both excellent production to truly get the full extent of the instruments’ kick and a steady hand on the composition aspect of it, making sure that the songs actually end up going somewhere instead of fading into the void after creating their momentary boom. Happily for me, Kaschalot seem to have heard and answered my cry, wielding both those allusive skills, by releasing their wonderful Whale Songs way back in October.
When the album finally landed in my inbox and made its way into my ears, I was immediately struck by the bright energies that it contained. The above-used adjective, “wonderful”, is maybe the best word to describe it in a literal sense; something about the size of the mix and the tones used simply makes it feel like its overflowing with wonder. Opening track “Whale Song” is a really good example; listen to how the main riff just exudes this sense of largesse, of vitality, even as the delay-heavy lead guitar sounds its mournful cry beneath it. By the time the main riff comes swinging back along, it’s imbued with chair-dance inducing grooves, the bass going especially hard near the end there. This passage exemplifies those two requisite skills I highlighted above; firstly, the track’s production allows all of these disparate elements to really shine through but secondly, and maybe slightly more importantly, Kaschalot wrote this track so all parts fit together.
This is also the case on the meta-level; the album is beautifully constructed. The third track, “Lick Your Elbow”, is a bit more mellow, the middle passages giving the bass front and center. It does a beautiful job with it, creating an inescapable beat alongside the playful drums which accompany it. The guitars join along, subdued in tone but not in spirit, leaping between leads, chords, and clever interplays with plenty of dexterity. The track ends up being introspective and slightly melancholy, a vibe which feeds perfectly into the following “Deny and Riot”. This track opens big, with a massive, happy-go-lucky riff that sets your heart to beating right from the get go, reminding us of In Each Hand a Cutlass (please don’t forget about this band) with its infectious energies.
The marked sea-change from the previous track is exactly what we needed after “Lick Your Elbow”; the structure of the album make sure things stay fresh and varied, even as you near the middle and the end of the album. Put all of these together and you get an album that’s just a ton of fun. By mixing up post-rock’s propensity for bloated compositions with plenty of groove, beat, and progressive structures, Kaschalot have created an album that just demands to be heard again and again. Its energies mean that you’ll find yourself going back to it since nothing else will quite get your blood going quite like it.
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Kaschalot’s Whale Songs was released on October 12th. You can grab it from the Bandcamp link above and you’d be a damn fool if you didn’t. They also have some sick shirts, so hit that Merch button!