After an immature debut album, Florida-based Carpadium put out Fake Jokes, an album that solidified their musical direction and sound in a more noisy math rock fashion, and got rid of the vocals too. Their upcoming full-length, What You Need, will be out on the 26th of February.
On its layout, the album is just a tad longer than 30 minutes and consists of five songs, as well as a prelude and three interludes. Continuing the sound found on Fake Jokes, What You Need is upbeat and sometimes pretty angry math rock with a noisy yet very good production, and a few newfound influences from jazz and post-metal. The resulting sound is an interesting bend of math rock towards post-metal with long buildups and different reiterations of the same theme or idea. It’s a bit like CHON meets ISIS, but heavier than the former and more concise than the latter.
What You Need starts off with “/”, the prelude, which is a glimpse of what probably goes on in the minds of those guys: noise, psychedelia, and jazz. Before long, the second song, “Lars Needs a Vacation”, kicks in with its signature riff, which gets developed upon and twisted in a myriad of different ways: different tonality, amputated, played on different instruments and different octaves, etc. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of theme development. That’s something they do well, and into what only too few bands put time and effort. On to “Bear Doin’ Cat Moves”, a much more positive and energetic song with a variety of great riffs and cool sections including a few tonal modulations and tempo/feel alterations that draws you in to listen more carefully, as well as the aforementioned motif development. It all ends abruptly after a very short jazz section. Cool! “//” is longer, noisier, and weirder than “/”, and I’d like to point out that the only vocals to be found on the album are in those short pieces, and they’re just not giving a shit, too.
“Years Collapse and Grow Hollow” is more melancholic and introduces some atmospheric keyboard work, unless it’s a very effects-laden guitar. This one is more post-rock in sound, and even shoegaze, than elsewhere on the album. I think this song is good, but would’ve been better and more effective had it been longer, to let the depressive atmosphere and contemplative chords sink in more. Then, we’re quickly past “///” and into “Wool Station”, which is, I believe, their take on both Animals as Leaders and chiptune rock. This is possibly the heaviest track, with low math rock riffs and a bunch of lo-fi synthesizer melodies. There are really fun metrics in this song, and interesting accentuations, especially with the ending riff.
Finally, “////” is the more noisy and ambient interlude, and doesn’t stray into the usual psych or more unleashed experimental sound of the other ones. It serves as an unrelated introduction to the queerly named “AA a aaaAAA aa aaaA A Aa A”. I still haven’t got the meaning behind this odd string of characters, and haven’t been able to apply its structure to any of the riffs in the song. Speaking of which, this one is the lengthiest, at over 10 minutes, and most experimental one on the album. At times recalling me of thrash metal, and other times of djent, it brings in interesting and eclectic ideas, almost as though they were tossed song ideas that never made it to full development, and instead were strung together in this piece. The most off-putting part of it begins at about 6 minutes in, where all the instruments begin to go out of phase with each other. At first I thought it was an elaborate polyrhythmic pattern, but upon closer inspection, it sounds more like an ulterior change to the respective tracks’s speed in the digital workstation. An increasing amount of reverb gives away the fact that this will be the final part of the album, which indeed goes fully ambient shortly before the 9 minutes mark.
On What You Need, we get to see a lot of things: noisy psychedelic interludes, well thought-out and intelligently crafted math rock songs with a post-rock or post-metal feel, depending on which song you’re listening to, and a sort of collage of ideas that serves as the closer track, which has a more traditional metal feel to some parts of it. The four first actual songs, not taking into account the prelude and interludes, are praiseworthy examples of math rock and memorable in many ways, even if some of them could’ve benefitted from a longer development. The last song sounds more experimental but not in a convincing manner, and I believe it will remain a skipper. The “/” tracks are a neat little feature, but add little to the overall experience except from playing time. As a final word, What You Need gives you what you need – great math rock tracks -, but bundles it with unnecessary interludes and wraps it up with a disappointing ending. I hope that Carpadium will continue to put out those good songs, and learn to discern the fill from the frill, to put out a more focused experience. The album comes out on the 26th, so be sure to head over to their bandcamp page to hear it for yourself!
A press copy of the album was provided for this review.
What You Need
1: / – 0:23
2: Lars Needs a Vacation – 4:50
3: Bear Doin’ Cat Moves – 3:19
4: // – 1:19
5: Years Collapse and Grow Hollow – 4:36
6: /// – 0:20
7: Wool Station – 3:42
8: //// – 1:49
9: AA a aaaAAA aa aaaA A Aa A – 10:01
Total running time: 30:19
Release date: 2016/02/26
File type listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 320 kbps CBR
Sample frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels