Zia by aswekeepsearchingRelease date: April 28, 2017
I love it when bands are expressive in their playing. Where emotions come flowing out and wash all over you and all of the senses are engaged. It’s overwhelming and amazing, all at the same time. Many post-rock bands achieve this heightened sensory overload and aswekeepsearching are one of these bands. From start to finish, their second full length album, Zia, does just that. There are so many wonderful layers in each track of this album and the use of traditional instruments such as the tabla and sitar makes this album even more unique and amazing. The use of vocals in some of the tracks is also on point, becoming another instrument playing alongside all the other instruments.
The album starts out with, ‘And Then Came Spring’, we are introduced to melodic and dreamy vocals. The synth and steady drum beat start the track and then builds, getting heavier in the last minute and a half of the track. The guitar then mimics the vocals’ melody and then the track ends on that dreamy synth drone. ‘Sleep//Awake’ introduces the tabla for the first time in the album. It’s a great contrast to everything else going on in the track. Great steady beat, guitar work and punchy bass line. Awesome piano riff, here and throughout the album. Wait until it all comes together at the 2:54 mark. The tabla shines.
Beautiful delayed piano playing starts the track ‘Uns’ which is then followed by equally beautiful guitar work. The beautiful voice of Uddipan Sarmah can be heard again in this track. So expressive in both voice and instrumentation.
The track, ‘There You Are’, has a great steady flow. The strings in this track really add to the feel of the track. A great contrast between the eloquence of the strings and the rocking guitars and hard hitting drums. With a title like ‘Reminiscence’, there’s a chance it will begin as a slow and thoughtful journey, and it does. Again, dreamy vocals and synth playing here. A nice bass line to round things out. The vocals soar and the harmonies are incredible. I felt like I was flying. Strings come in and it gets heavy all at once. An epic track.
Oh ‘Kalga’. There are few songs that cause me to shed tears. This is now one of them. The track starts out with recorded street sounds and voices, both adult and children’s voices. A guitar starts playing and soon everyone starts. Slow and steady. A windy drone in behind. The way the strings are played in this track was very reminiscent of Balmorhea. The track gets heavy and then slows right down again. A beautiful organ sounds comes in, reminiscent of Mogwai. Vocals begin to tell a story. Then everyone comes back in, heavy and expressive. The waterworks begin. It’s so overwhelming and beautiful. Then a surprise, wait, are those cries? The emotions of the vocalist spill out. It was a surreal moment, making this one of my most favorite tracks.
Synth drones and stutter affected guitar start the next track, ‘A New Solace’. Slow and steady, this track builds atop each layer. It’s airy, spacey and vast and remains that way to the end.
‘Hope Unfolds’ starts with a great 80s influenced synth sound. Guitars begin, each playing a different and contrasting layer. There’s a great crunchy bass line and wonderful piano riff in this track. The tabla also returns. At the 4:03 mark everything comes together. I really love the vocal harmonies, piano riff and bass line in this track. The track ‘Lights and Colors’ has another great bass line and great synth drone. The guitar work is catchy and the drum beat is steady. It’s a melodic and heavy track, just wait for the 2:48 mark. I love the synth here.
“Sometime Somewhere’ did not disappoint. It starts heavy and then finally, the sitar makes its debut. In my opinion, there’s nothing more distinct and loved than the sitar. The piano playing in this track is amazing as well. It all just comes together. The last 41 seconds of the track ends with the piano and spacey synth sounds. It’s my second most favorite track on the album.
Alas, we come to the end of the album. The track, ‘Ascend’ is spacey with a wonderful synth drone start. A beat is introduced and it’s almost like the rhythm of one’s heart beat when sleeping. The piano begins but softly. It’s a dream and I didn’t want it to end.
Zia, from beginning to end, felt like it was telling a story. I believe that’s what the band was trying to achieve and they did so perfectly. This album has everything in it. From the use of traditional instruments, to vocals, to strings, synths and piano. The guitar, bass and drum work were all equally amazing. I can’t say enough about this album. Epic from start to finish.