There’s a certain level of pattern and precision when it comes to German band Condre Scr‘s first record in six years, “You Are Genius”. These post-rock songs sound written rather than the result of whittled down versions of jamming sessions, like those of Meniscus for example. That’s not to say there’s a good way and a bad way of composing instrumental music– just different. In any case I’m only guessing. The tracks last between three and six minutes but use the space so well they feel longer. They are also mixed well for headphones.
Opening track “Boca” is a glorious passage of crescendocore not quite four minutes long. Jangling guitar in right ear, drums and more guitar join in the left, before bass joins the stronger left forces. Guitar bent like cello adds beautiful melancholy, before the whole thing completely alters in its spacial feel, pulling away and more central as distortion increases. Ending suddenly, Condre Scr abandon the well-worn post-rock route of dropping it back down and building on the initial crescendo. It leaves me feeling a little short-changed at first but as I go through the rest of the record those concerns fade.
“Bogatell” starts with some electronic chatter and minimal, simple drums before a melodic bass line starts that will weave gently throughout the track. Swirling and tremolo guitars add layers that take turns in coming to the fore, as if jazz musicians taking their solos in front of the sounds behind. Then it is all stripped back to the initial ingredients before the cadence.
It’s a pattern that’s repeated in most tracks – build up the sound slowly then strip it back before an uneventful end. Sounds a little repetitive and it’s true that “You Are Genius” does not explore new sounds and directions in the same way as post-rock bands like Flies Are Spies From Hell, The Fierce And The Dead or Rumour Cubes. Instead, the band deals with the frequent criticism that post-rock is self-indulgent over-bloated wankery (not my view mind you), by delivering smaller packages. A collection of good short stories if you like – perhaps not at the level of five-minute-post-rock benchmark “Quiet” by This Will Destroy You, but closer that many others.
The other thing the band does well is deliver such heartfelt emotion, especially in the last four tracks. These are almost the post-rock version of R.E.M.‘s “Country Feedback”. The devices used to create this emotion include at various points keyboard, feedback and distortion, slide guitar, key changes, using more floor tom, not using drums, and at all times the gradual build up of tension. At one point I heard a despairing, angst-filled guitar ask; ‘why me?’, then discovered the song is called “Ask The Ones You Know”.
Condre Scr have created a very good record by reconstructing and repackaging fairly typical post-rock rather than pushing the boundaries into new areas. Part of the brilliant Oxide Tones stable, it’s great to have them back after such a long hiatus – let’s hope we don’t have to wait another six years for the next instalment.