LABEL: SUMERIAN RECORDS
WORDS: OTTO BALFOUR
Given the nuances of the Math-Rock genre are rooted in Jazz and Progressive Rock primarily, it is rare for a band to truly stand out amongst their often instrumental contemporaries. With the likes Polyphia, American Football and Plini paving the way forward for the genre, Math-Rock veterans Chon have bestowed us with their intuitive, somewhat easy-listening self titled third album. To pull off, let alone impress on the traditionally difficult third album in such a (relatively speaking) niche genre is no easy task, yet the California quartet have managed it. Despite being a tad repetitive at times, Chon have created a soundscape fit for the Summer that fuels a rather nostalgic narrative.
The aptly titled opening track, ‘Ghost’, introduces the album with the luscious guitar tones and intricate polyrhythms the band are renowned for. The nature of the song is less restrained than the rest of the album that follows. The filtered drums in the intro are lathered throughout the record and are always welcome. Secondly, ‘Cloud’ is the instrumental embodiment of watching a crystal clear sunset from the beaches of an illydic, far-Eastern hideaway sipping a glass of the finest Chardonnay; this track warms the soul. With heavenly delays blended perfectly in the orchestra of octaved guitars and filtered drums, this song is one of the highlights on the record.
Third, ‘Gift’ showcases the more swung jazz influenced side of the band. The intricacy of the rhythmic elements throughout this track never ceases to amaze complimented by a dash of gorgeous glitchy guitars that piques interest, yet leaves the listener somewhat wanting into ‘Visit’.
“Chon have created a soundscape fit for the Summer that fuels a rather nostalgic narrative.”
Chon then deliver one of the highlights on the album ‘Petal’. The layering of the guitars over the ever increasingly complex polyrhythmic drumming invites head-nodding to one steady tempo throughout. The tones achieved through use of the Earthquaker Devices pedal range is astounding, creating a bit-crushed, synthesised lead line that is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Next up is ‘Pitch Dark’. Piquing interest by opening with an almost Flamenco influenced harmonies, and then breaking into some of the most complex rhythmic sections on the album, Chon have cooked the middle of this album to perfection. ‘Rosewood’ drifts by in a heartbeat, showcasing the truly outstanding production work, as does ‘If’.
‘Spike’ resembles the Chon that we know and love. Reprising their slightly grittier sound from their 2013 record ‘Newborn Sun’, it is a welcome harkening back that will be a fan favourite without a doubt. This song serves as a reminder that the band are touring pals with Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria and Animals as Leaders. ‘Dead End’ ensues with ethereal bit-crushed delays, deeper choruses and subtle ring-modulators serving as a reminder that, yes this album is restrained, but Chon have still got it. Restrained songwriting may seem easy, but the quartet have plucked the art-form down to a tee. ‘Thanks’ again serves to reiterate this and passes by with relative ease.
“A showcase of brilliant songwriting and immense skill”
Finally we have the first single from the album, ‘Peace’. While the rest of the album has been cohesive, this is the stand out track from the album. Utilising the classic stop and drill delay loved by Math-Rock fans and bands globally, the band have put a successful notch in their belt after this song. The polyrhythms continue to astound. The final arpeggios are a welcome finish to the relatively short thirty-six minute album.
A showcase of brilliant songwriting and immense skill, yet slightly flawed through the somewhat repetitive nature of scale choice and structure in the first half of the album, Chon have put forward a bold effort that will see them build on their already extensive touring schedule.