Constants
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Constants

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Boston’s Constants walk a tightrope above three dangerous traps: the Sarlacc Pit of emo, the tiger pit of pop and the quicksand of metalgaze. Wait, come back! It actually works. Other groups have done this in the past few years—Junius, Hands, later Thrice. Heavy music may have splintered into a million subgenres, but inevitably bands start mining their common grounds. Constants’ fusion of disparate styles is one of the most organic yet.
The key is songwriting. So many bands now play songs within styles. Constants write songs that happen to have styles. The difference is significant. Instead of simplistic good cop/bad cop dynamics, or Auto-Tune-because-everyone-else-is-doing-it (one of the world’s worst trends), or soft-loud-soft-because-Isis-do-it, Constants work through melodies, textures and rhythms with remarkable fluency. They love delay pedals (hello, U2!). They dig proggy odd meters. They would fit equally well on Equal Vision or InsideOut.
All this goodness comes with a catch. The production sounds so expensive, it’s off-putting. Vocals leave arena-sized trails of reverb. Drums boom like Tommy Lee is playing them. Songs this emotional should not suffocate in Pro Tools hell. (“Abraxas Pt. II” features a particularly ugly edit that sounds like someone accidentally sat on the keyboard.) The term “radio-ready” comes to mind. Noooooo! Maybe that’s what Constants want—to be the next Coldplay or whatever. If they want to catapult out of this lowly rag into Rolling Stone, they could do it. Just don’t start charging $50 a ticket.

http://decibelmagazine.com/Content.aspx?ncid=329297 - Decibel Magazine


Call it space rock, call it art rock, call it progressive indie textural mamma jammas. Call it whatever you want, but creating beautiful, challenging, conceptual epics is something that appears to come easy to Boston, MA's Constants. After showing unlimited potential on their 2004 debut, "Nostalgia For The Future" and its follow-up, 2006's "The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril," the band has now firmly and undeniably come into their own on their latest opus.

Following their recent split 7" with fellow Bostonians in Caspian, the courageously ambitious three-part exercise in atmosphere and mood on display within "The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension" is truly a haunting experience. It knows when to build, when to change, when to climax, when to breathe and when to stop. This is an album of such subtle extremes and tasteful intricacies that the further you delve into it's many layers, the more lost you become, and the more rewarded you will be. Not for the faint of heart, this is a music lovers album on every level.

http://hangout.altsounds.com/news/108226-constants-announce-new-album-the-foundation-the-machine-the-ascention-out-july.html - Altsound.com


For all my complaining about mindless, superficial pop-crap infiltrating punk and indie music, there’s a whole other extreme to the musical spectrum that takes being serious as serious business. CONSTANTS is not fucking around. This three-piece band is PELICANesque, and unsurprisingly, bears familiarity with groups like ISIS and JESU. The Foundation | The Machine | The Ascension is deliberate like the former, and warm like the latter. Unlike ISIS, there’s no gut-scraping screaming to fill in the heavy gaps, and the songs have a little bit more movement in them. Less waiting; more soaring. A syrupy, billowy recording owns The Foundation, and while I’m normally OK with this kind of heft, all of the musical tones are a bit smothered. Guitarist, vocalist, and electronic doodad guy Will Benoit has the perfect kind of droning style for the music, but on a few songs (”Eternal Reoccurrence” in particular), he might as well be singing on the underside of a waterfall… and I am confident that’s not an intended effect. If you add it all up, CONSTANTS has put a thorough musical plan into motion, but they haven’t bested their benchmarks.

http://www.pastepunk.com/site/?p=19771 - Pastepunk.com


Constants' fourth release, The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension, is a gorgeous record, both musically and physically. With artwork by Ira Bronson (Junius, Tombs, Circle Takes the Square) splayed out across a trifold triple LP (180 gram, if I'm not mistaken) is stunning. It's got the thickest spine of any record I own. Each 'movement' of the album is on a separate record, and in the case of the one I reviewed (limited to 100 copies, now unfortunately sold out) each record is a different color: "The Foundation" on brown vinyl, "The Machine" on gray vinyl, and "The Ascension" on clear. From The Mylene Sheath's (the label) website:
The triple gatefold jackets that house the vinyl contain no less than 6 FEET of artwork, upgraded to 350gsm stock with spot gloss across the top of the jackets. Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East (Torche, Converge, Isis, Caspian).
Other labels, are you listening? THIS is how you release vinyl!

Let's get to the music. On this album, the band's songwriting is much more concise and focused than on past efforts. There are clearly over-arching thematic elements to the record and the record has a very consistent sound from song to song. Constants can most accurately be filed under 'post-rock,' but not the instrumental Explosions-in-the-Sky-wanna-be variety. One can certainly hear the influence of the aforementioned band here, but not in an overly derivative way like so many other bandwagon jumpers. One also hears Maserati in guitarist/vocalist Will Benoit's highly-structured delay pedal passages, but I'm not entirely sure who influenced who in this case. Similarly, there is evidence of the influence of contemporary composers such as Steve Reich, but filtered through a rock lens.

This album, which was recorded by Daryl Rabidoux at Strangeways Recordings and Benoit at various locations, is quite a bit more polished and refined than Constants' past work and there are positive and negative aspects to this. On the one hand, the record does sound quite a bit fuller and more consistent than the band's previous efforts. However, if I had to say anything negative about the album at all it would be this: the band seems to be lacking energy somewhat. The recordings seem almost too reserved, too refined. They lack the endearing over-ambition of the band's debut album, 2004's Nostalgia For The Future and the energetic, rough-around-the-edges sound of 2006's The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril. I attribute the change to two factors: improved production and tighter performances. Since 2006 the band has changed drummers, and there's a distinct difference in the style of current drummer Rob Motes, as compared to past drummer Duncan Rich-- Motes is more focused, less adventurous whereas Rich was always thinking outside the box and challenging himself and the listener alike.

Overall, a giant leap forward for Constants. If, on their next record, they can find a happy medium between the mature, focused nature of The Foundation... and the raw, youthful energy of past efforts, Constants will truly be a force to be reckoned with.

http://www.crustcake.com/2009/09/crustcake-reviews-constants-foundation.html - Crustcake.com


Boston-based shoe-gazing space-rockers Constants return with their second full-length and follow-up to 2006's The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril EP. With The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension Constants continues to make waves in the rock world as they showcase their talent towards writing intricate, dynamic, and ominous rock music.

The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension is ultimately broken up into three segments, each of which corresponds to a portion of the album's title. The meaning behind the title and this distribution of tracks isn't given, and without a lyric sheet for the album, it's difficult to explain exactly why this is done. I'm sure there is a deep-rooted meaning, but without an inkling to go on, I'll just leave it as a mystery.

The first group, The Foundation, begins with “Genetics Like Chess Pieces.” The listener is entertained with a well-balanced combination of spacey indie rock, mid-tempo post-rock, and straightforward alternative rock. The sound falls someplace between Oceansize, and Cave In. Notably, the drum work of Rob Motes is quite fantastic toward the latter part of the song. The two-song venture “Those Who Came Before Pt. 1” and “Those Who Came Before Pt. 2” showcases guitarist/vocalist Will Benoit's skills. Whether he is provided fuzzed-out riffs or delicate and playful melodies to sing with, he's at the top of the game. His vocals mind me of the harmonies of Jesu's Justin Broadrick mixed with Failure's Ken Andrews.

The second set of songs is dubbed The Machine. The differences between these songs and the others aren't that significant, but there is definitely a slight variation in style, tempo, and the overall mood set forth in the three groupings. Constants take a more subdued approach to these songs, scaling back the distortion to the guitars and toning down the pace of the rhythm section. The result is a slightly darker and foreboding mood.

The final set of songs is given the name The Ascension. On these four tracks Constants becomes a more upbeat and dynamic band once again. These songs highlight the band's post-rock influences with their incorporation of numerous rising and falling sequences and crescendo moments.

The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension is a well-rounded release from start to finish. There were more than a few moments on the album that I absolutely loved; and while I can't say there are any aspects of the album that I hated there were a few so-so moments. I think my biggest qualm with Constants is that I quite often caught myself referencing other bands work throughout – Oceansize, Junius, and Failure to name a few. That's not a knock - all three of those bands are excellent. Constants still has some fine tuning to do before they're ready to be a mega force, but they've got the tools to get there.

http://www.scenepointblank.com/reviews/2570 - Scenepointblank.com


While there’s no questioning the broad scope of Constants’ conceptual epic The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension, it’s a little difficult to access it on any consequential emotional level.
The Boston-based trio is certainly capable of producing textured atmospherics, of course. Rob Motes, Orion Wainer, and Will Benoit have nearly perfected the art of snaking arrangements and long instrumental passages, but something about the final result seems to pack punch and ultimate essence.
The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension is divided into three suites. According to the band’s MySpace page, the concept covers a “being called Damien who exists in one place and is eternally searching for another.”
“Genetics Like Chess Pieces” opens the record and the album’s first suite (“The Foundation”) with a distorted, fuzzy vibe that resembles the spacious Deftones. Benoit’s guitar and programming sets up the mood and Motes’ drums clatter through the fuzz, establishing roomy momentum that doesn’t go anywhere.
As a vocalist, Benoit doesn’t stand out. His vocals melt into the arrangements like yet another sonic layer, providing no entry point for listeners who can’t quite grasp the tale of Damien and his search for “another place.”
The second suite, “The Machine,” is a little more forceful but still lacks impact. A swell of distorted, secluded guitar pipes in from a distant world to begin “The Nameless” and the song flutters like a lost butterfly. Benoit’s vocals resemble afterthoughts, however, and come across a touch redundant.
At times, The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension feels like an exercise rather than a natural extension of art. The Constants come across as pointlessly ostentatious, packing layers and landscapes into spaces to the extent of sounding self-important. While some might applaud this brand of winding post-rock, the intrinsic lack of substance remains a problem.
“The Ascension,” the third suite, picks up the pace a little more. It is the best suite on the record, nearly succeeding at swallowing up the listener with sound on the two-part “Abraxas” and locating urgency on “…passage.”
While the Constants are intelligent, skilled musicians capable of creating open spaces, their lack of emotion and connection to the material creates a sense of distance and disinterest. The music feels like it is being played for the sake of it rather than for the love of it, leading to an experience that, despite being sonically notable at times, is ultimately detached.

http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-constants-the-foundation-the/ - Blogcritics.org


In CONSTANTS, the small but fine American Independent label Radar Recordings presents the new highlight in terms of Alternative Rock. The influences range from famous greats like RADIOHEAD or PINK FLOYD to globally praised outfits ala DRADG, older CAVE-IN, TOOL or PELICAN. The playing time of the four tracks alone is impressive and proves that the CONSTANTS are light-years away from creating radio-friendly three-minute songs. The three Americans (plus one live guitarist) focus on sophisticated, lengthy songs which, due to the intricate work, will only reveal their true splendour after several spins.

With that said, the opening song „Walk Dead In East Texas“ has become rather short with its seven minutes when compared to the following tracks. It already shows which kind of music this band is able to display. Thought-out and elaborated, the music casts a spell on the listener who will have a hard time trying to escape this trio’s beauty. Great melodies, fragile sounds and wonderful vocals paint a picture which, in most cases ,only established greats are able to offer. On “Robotica And Lobotomy” long instrumental sections which are interrupted by the clean and conjuring vocals take the lead. Calm parts arranged in an almost minimalist way are frequently torn apart by furious rocking trips. With that said, you feel that the band knows exactly what they are doing and these changes do not seem artificial or disjointed at all. The heart-work of “The Murder Of Tom Fitzgerril” is the homonymous title track, though. This epic masterpiece is rocking on the one hand but spacey, detached and melodic on the other, which makes it seem impossible to describe all this with words. It is a fact that CONSTANTS manage not to sound boring at any time but keep the listener’s interest on the highest level. There are no artificially extended songs here, but worthy and excellent music which just allows longer songs because of its numerous ideas. This is also the case with “When Stars Dilate”, another eight-minute song which, just like its predecessors, manages to excite you and does not justify any criticism.

The question that remains unanswered is how is this band able to write such intricate songs when they are on the road most of the time, playing show by show. In 2006, the CONSTANTS were on tour for ten months and played North America with an enormous fervour. We can only wish that a full-length album will be released in the near future and that they will come to Europe, because CONSTANTS delivered more than just a taste of their talent in “The Murder Of Tom Fitzgerril” and all the bad luck on this world would have to unite to prevent Will Benoit (guitar and vocals), Orion Wainer (bass) and Duncan Rich (drums and sampler) from achieving international success.

http://www.metal-observer.com/articles.php?lid=1&sid=1&id=11783 - Metal-observer.com


An album like this one is really hard to explain; Constants plays post-rock in the vein of Explosions In The Sky, Mono or maybe Mogwai but they add an aggressive feeling to their music which makes it sound like post-hardcore/Sludge ala Isis or Cult Of Luna. So it's in fact very interesting music with a fairly good mix of genres if you know what I mean.

The energy and intensity that this record delivers is really impressive and unexpected; you'll find four long songs, each one with a different vibe surrounding it, those tunes are incredibly well structured and processed for you to easily drown in the beautiful images created by the chords played, the words yelled, the beats conveyed and the thoughts portrayed. Albums like this one are hard to find, the ones that create shades and images with the music; this kind of records were available when music was not about selling records or looking good for cameras, fortunately Constants were able to release this EP, once you hear it you'll understand what I'm trying to say believe me.

I usually don't write about songs separately, but this time I really have to. The title song alone ("The Murder Of Tom Fitzgerril") deserves a 10 on its own; this third track offers 13 minutes of the most amazing music I've heard in years, it goes from depressive tones to aggressive riffs and then explodes into a chaotic wrath to finally end with a slow-paced epilogue. Believe me, it's actually an orgasmic song, I am not overreacting, this tune is in fact one of the most shocking musical experiences I've ever had since I became a reviewer 2 years ago. I just wish they would have added this song in the end as "When The Stars Dilate", being as good as it is, it's not the best closure for "The Murder Of Tom Fitzgerril"

I can see this band achieving greater things in the future and I can't wait to hear a Full-Length album; I highly recommend this album to every single person in this planet, the versatility presented in this EP will please even the most elitist ears and it will suit in every CD collection around the world. I'm not giving a perfect score because "The Murder OF Tom Fitzgerril" is still unpolished in execution matters, but I'm sure the masterpiece will come really soon.


http://www.metalstorm.ee/pub/review.php?review_id=3039&page=&message_id= - metalstorm.ee


It’s so hard to put a unique stamp on the post-rock genre in 2009. Hell, it was hard to do so in 2006.

Constants know this, though. They know that to be unique in a genre as saturated as post-rock isn’t necessarily to be good. So all that’s left is to create a terrific record and not give a damn what other band it may or may not sound like.

So sure, you could compare The Foundation | The Machine | The Ascension to a host of other shoegaze or post-rock records -- it doesn’t matter. What does is that from the first, delicate intonations of “Genetics Like Chess Pieces” to the last overpowering chords of “…Passage,” this is a grand and sweeping record that is not to be slept on.

It’s all about mood for the Boston trio; the thundering riffs that open “Genetics” quickly segue into a pulsing, melodic rhythm section just laden with distortion. Without being scatterbrained or schizophrenic, Constants keep parts moving at all times. Even just a subtle change in chord progression or drum pattern makes a big difference, and that unwillingness to stay tethered to one sound is what keeps every song interesting.

And it’s all a logical progression. The thick, muddy “Genetics...” leads into the airy exposition of “Damien” and the melodic guitar tones keep the mood light. Even towards the end of the song, when the rhythms become awash with distortion and the drawn-out, droning vocals of singer Will Benoit softly resonate throughout, the path of the song and the album is sure. And every song on that path injects a new, interesting wrinkle. “Those Who Came Before Pt. 1” throws in some electronic elements á la Maserati and “Those Who Came Before Pt. 2” relies on minimal instrumentation to gently push the album along.

True to form, just when it sounds like the album is mellowing out, “The Nameless” explodes out of the gate with a veritable wall of distortion and the soft hum of reverb in the background offsets it perfectly. Constants have mastered the art of amalgamating two contrasting sounds into a new and interesting approach, so that each time you listen to any of the songs on the album you’re able to hear something new. A new, tiny wrinkle that can either accent a song or change its sound completely. Sometimes the back-and-forth between the two contrasting elements isn’t quite so subtle.

“Abraxas Pt. 1” caroms between the powerful riffs and waves of distortion and warm, jazzy chord progressions and before you’re able to wonder what path the song is headed down next it veers into wholly unraveled land.

Such is the charm and the strength of Constants.

Power and beauty. Thick bass grooves and razor-sharp riffs. It’s not the nouns or adjectives that matter. It’s the path and the journey.

http://www.punknews.org/review/8623 - Punknews.org


Discography

Nostalgia For The Future CDLP (2004)
The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril CD/LP (2006)
Caspian / Constants Split 7" (2008)
The Foundation, The Machine, The Ascension CD/ 3xLP (2009)

find streaming audio at:
www.myspace.com/constants
www.lastfm.com/constants
www.gimmesound.com/constants

and listen for them on your local college radio station!

Photos

Bio

The members of Constants don’t try to do anything—they just are who they are. The songs on “The Foundation, the Machine, the Ascension ” sound mature. Focused. Effortless. After three raw, eager early releases the band has finally come into its own: Benoit—along with bassist Orion Wainer and drummer Rob Motes—has fine-tuned his band’s distinct energy and youthful ambition into a signature sound that is Constants and Constants alone.

Rigorous touring has been a key element to the development of the band’s sound and fanbase, often mistaken for a local band from the next city over because they tour through so frequently. “We bought a school bus, converted it to run on waste vegetable oil, and toured for almost a year straight.” Touring in support of their last release, "The Murder of Tom Fitzgerril".

Now, nearly three years since its conception, “The Foundation, the Machine, the Ascension ”, the new three part epic by Constants is finally complete. Partially recorded by Daryl Rabidoux (The Cancer Conspiracy, Irepress, Paulson) and mastered by Nick Zampiello (Torche, ISIS, Jesu), The album begins by exploring the highest highs and lowest lows of the artists involved. "I think this record is less abstract that other things we've done in the past. It's still out there and more of that will be explored with artwork and animations, but this time, it feels more personal - there are still elements of mysticism present, but the focus this time is on self-understanding, better song writing and - to keep it angular - our own definitions of reality."