Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Tangled Thoughts of Leaving — Oscillating Forest
(Bird's Robe BRR, 2023, CD / LP / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2023-08-05
Tangled Thoughts of Leaving is a post-rock band based in Perth, Australia. It seems like post-rock bands are a dime a dozen in Australia (The Sea Shall Not Have Them, Kodiak Empire, Seims, We Lost the Sea, etc.), but TToL stands apart from the others by having a healthy infusion of something like free jazz in the mix. Don’t take that term too literally, however. In this case, it’s manifested as passages where guitar, bass, and keyboards pound away at notes or chords while the drums go crazy with no apparent tempo, then, presumably based on some kind of cue between the musicians, they change to a different note or chord. It’s almost as if the free-form rock song ending has been elevated to be a primary structure and not just a way to end a tune with a big flourish. Their previous release, No Tether, exhibited some of this as well, though I neglected to mention it in the review. With Oscillating Forest, there’s been a turnover at the drum chair, with Gracie Smith in for Ben Greene, but the style remains intact, and actually moves further into realms of noise, feedback, and freedom. Paul Briggs is kind of nuts on his guitar, wailing and feeding back, making all sorts of wild noises; Ron Pollard provides a welcome contrast by playing an acoustic piano much of the time; Luke Pollard’s bass is often overdriven for a highly aggressive presence; and Gracie Smith is a highly physical drummer at times, though she’s also capable of backing off to provide less intense propulsion. In today’s music, drums are often recorded in such a way that they almost sound sampled even when they’re real (you’d be surprised how many bands regularly engage in drum replacement), but here there’s a palpable sense of a real kit being played and not messed with too much. And I mean it when I say that the slight variations in tempo are a positive feature. All in all, Oscillating Forest messes with the conventions of post-rock so much that it’s moved to the fringe of the genre, which is fine by me — I don’t need another clone of Mono or Mogwai. I am awestruck by how TToL manages to infuse so much freedom and chaos into their music and still maintain the kind of power and emotional impact that the best instrumental rock can embody. And kudos to the production and technical team that made this wildness sound so good.
Related artist(s): Tangled Thoughts of Leaving
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