If the return of Godspeed You! Black Emperor last year reminded us anything, it was just how extravagant post-rock can be. Never exactly the most restrained of bands, whether you find their more grandiose tendencies pompous or exhilerating is a matter of taste. What is undeniable is that, compared to your average indie 4-piece, organising rehearsals, song-writing sessions, recording slots and tours must be a bloody nightmare.
That seems to have been the conclusion ERAAS came to. Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz were formerly both members of Apse, a Connecticut post-rock act signed to ATP Recordings, before coming to the conclusion that having six members in a band was more trouble than it was worth. As Toher puts it, “we had put out kind of a shit album that got bad reviews, and it was the kind of album that, I thought, had too many different hands in the pot”.
He started writing music alone, aiming to strip the bombast from Apse’s music and make something more minimal, before getting Stawiarz on board. The results are encouraging. Their eponymous debut album (which you can stream in its entirety above) was released last year, and was full of richly dark music that never spooned more than what was necessary onto your plate. Whether it was chanting over eastern scales like an electronic OM on ‘Skinning’ or mixing clicky rhythms with brooding bass in a Bauhaus style on ‘Briar Path’, they proved that sometimes you can achieve more by doing less.
Admittedly, the occult vibes can sometimes feel a bit tacked on (the hooded drummers and brandished knives on their new video for ‘Ghost’, below, are a case in point), on tracks like ‘A Presence’ they manage to sound like The Soft Moon if they kicked their irritating eighties fixation, or a less featureless Factory Floor. And while the video for ‘Ghost’ may be overkill, the track itself is delicious – seductive, sinister and darkly cinematic, its pitched somewhere between Joy Division and a nodding out Birthday Party, only with a much smoother sheen than that suggests.
When playing live they expand to a four-piece so as to avoid having to play to backing tracks – one of Toher’s pet hates. “I feel like 75% of the bands we play with play to a pro tools backing track that comprises half of their stage sound. It’s a shame,” he states. He may have gone minimal, but he doesn’t want to skimp on the essentials. Judging by their debut, which too many (including us) slept on in 2012, ERAAS’ next album could well be an essential you won’t want to neglect either.