Post-rock in excelsis. Souvaris help Gringo records celebrate their 10th anniversary.
Louis Pattison 2007
As I write these words, Gringo Records – the Nottingham-based label who are releasing A Hat – are in the process of celebrating their 10th birthday. It’s some feat for an independent label, particularly one like Gringo who have always declined to take the easy option, releasing intelligent, complex guitar/bass/drums music with apparently little care for the fickle tides of fashion. And while it’s true that many of the acts on this label tend to wear their influences on their sleeve – the brittle, mathematical rock music of Shellac, Fugazi and Slint; the shimmering explosive guitarscapes of Mogwai – it hasn’t stopped Gringo Records from carving out a well-deserved niche in the UK DIY rock scene.
The second full-length album from Nottingham quintet, Souvaris are certainly a Gringo band to the bone. When they play slow, as on the gentle opener '‘Buffle'’ or the gentle lead into ‘'Puny Go Stompin'’, they’re somewhere between super-minimal Kranky droners Stars Of The Lid or Mogwai at their most tender and prettified; when they play fast, as on ‘'Hand Or Fingers?'’ they play the sort of savage, calculated time-signature rock that sounds like Shellac trying out a bank of Ride’s effects pedals, or serene US post-rockers Tortoise on adrenaline shots.
Instrument-wise, Souvaris cast their net wide – everything from melodica to Appalachian dulcimer works its way into the design. And while there’s no vocals, save for the occasional off-mike whoop or barked command, it actually transpires to be something of a blessing. Free of any lyrical themes, these quiet bass meanderings, knotty guitar unravellings, and dramatic builds possess a strange emotional content of their own that’s magnified by the lack of specific, nailed-down meanings.
Best song here? Probably the wryly named closer, ‘'Nobody Is Fine And Everybody Needs A Drink'’. Commencing with a shuffling snare march and gentle piano, it gradually builds into a stormy symphony that’s both technically complex and heroically direct. Recommended.