Some bands get along fine feeding off of trends that are fleeting and usually limited to a specific time and place and history; but for a mammoth melody-maker like Hemhora and the Glass Band, recycling the tonality of other acts simply just doesn’t cut it. In the new extended play Helix Pattern Blues, Hemhora and the Glass Band explore elements of pop, rock and elusive ambient droning channeled through a pulsating mix to create something that is fascinatingly different and unique to their own collective skillset. Comprised of musicians who individually have quite a bit of experience under their belts, this group was extremely hard for me to categorize the first time I heard their new EP, which goes above and beyond to press the limits of musicality in the pop aesthetic to the very brink of destruction. Nothing about Helix Pattern Blues owes to the narrative of modern commercialized rock music, but to say that these six songs it contains aren’t sophisticated slices of surprisingly accessible rhythm built for millennials with a high pedigree for new music would be a lie of criminal proportions.
The first half of Helix Pattern Blues has this underlying jazz rhythm that is constantly being manipulated in the strangest (and most indulgent) of ways. We start off with “The Last of Them,” which pushes and shoves us around with an artificial beat that is supported by a brittle bassline. The tempo is all over the place, but somehow the pace remains consistent enough to carry us right into “World On Its Neck” seamlessly and without blatant interruption. “World On Its Neck” rides high on a familiar pop groove only to break away from its structural ceiling early on in search of more expansive tones, which we ironically end up finding in the juddering “BMX.” In this song, a mid-track post-rock break down acts as the centerpiece on which the band spreads out its swelling harmonics, all the while pulling us left and right on a sonic rollercoaster with no clear destination in sight. Say what you will about the postmodernity movement of the late 2010s, but this has got to be one of the most engaging listening experiences you’ll discover this autumn on an EP.
The album’s second act is much less experimental than its first is, and I would even argue that the last three songs are meant to illustrate Hemhora and the Glass Band’s ability to modulate between the avant-garde and a more straightforward, college radio-friendly sound. “The Drive/The Wreck” lives up to its self-explanatory title and careens over a studded rhythm into a violent wall of sound that rips us asunder with its magnetizing pull, but “Boxes (Vices)” and “Stage Dive” are essentially alternative rock prototypes that have been repurposed with a refined technique and precision that this group seems to have in spades. By the time you finish your first listen of Helix Pattern Blues, you might be wondering just who Hemhora and the Glass Band really are beneath their artistic riddles and creative enigmas, but not to worry – this record is only a teaser ahead of their official debut LP to be released next year.
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